Apr 25 2011

IRCSET Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme 2011

Category: Fourth LevelTeknovis @ 8:18 am

IRCSET recently announced the results of the 2011 Postdoctoral Scheme (see IRCSET Postdoctoral Fellowship Schemes 2010/2011). The value of each fellowship is roughly 80,000€ over two years (see Empower).

According to my count there were 37 fellowships awarded this year. These can be broken down by institution as follows:

  • 4 DCU
  • 1 DIAS (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies – I know very little about this institution!)
  • 1 DIT
  • 6 UCG
  • 10 TCD
  • 1 UL
  • 3 UCC
  • 11 UCD

Clearly TCD and UCD are doing something right because they account for more than half of the successful applicants!

The fellowships can also be broken down by category, although these results are more evenly distributed:

  • 4 Biological Sciences A
  • 6 Biological Sciences B
  • 7 Chemistry
  • 2 Computer Science
  • 4 Earth and Environmental Science
  • 6 Engineering
  • 2 Mathematics
  • 6 Physics

It is also interesting to note how many of the names do not sound Irish!

Overall, I do not think that these fellowships represent good value for the tax payer! I say this, because I know some of the people who have successfully applied for this fellowship. In all cases, it is seen as a way to continue a career as an academic. Furthermore, the people I have known had or have no intention of remaining in Ireland or working in industry. In other words, these people want to become academics for the sake of becoming academics, and their contribution to the country will be minimal.

If it were up to me, I would fund more PhD students who then go on to work in industry!

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Feb 18 2011

Caught Faking a PhD

Category: Fourth LevelTeknovis @ 10:56 pm

Ouch – German ‘plagiarism’ minister Guttenberg drops doctorate.

Of course, somebody in Ireland did something similar in Ireland within the last 10 years…

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Nov 11 2010

How DERI Spends the Taxpayers’ Money

Category: Fourth LevelTeknovis @ 8:25 pm

Earlier this week I wrote about the huge, and unwarranted, costs of certain staff in Top Educational Salaries in Ireland. So today I decided to stay with expenditure in Irish education, and write about something that has really been annoying me for the last two weeks.

Somebody told me about an article describing how a UCG research group called DERI has been spending the tax payers’ money that was given to them by Science Foundation Ireland. The article is very revealing, and it can be read online: Tighter Controls at NUIG Research Institute Following Expenses Controversy.

I will quote some of the more astonishing revelations…

Tighter controls have been implemented at a research institute at NUIGalway after a hundred thousand euro was spent to hire private jets. The private flights were for researchers and academics at the Digital Enterprise Research Institute, DERI, at NUIG, in 2004.

The wastage continues…

Other expenses incurred include 154 thousand euro to send dozens of DERI staff to a luxury resort in Crete for conferences.

Shame on you both UCG and DERI for your pathetic self-interest at the cost of everybody else.

So what is the outcome of all of this?

Current DERI Chief Executive, Michael Turley, says policies have been tightened since those expenses were incurred.

What is wrong with this country? Why have those involved in this embezzlement, and those who were supposed to be overseeing it, not being charged with criminal activity? How come they have not been fired? Is it to much to ask that they be forced to pay it back? Even a public apology to the taxpayers whose money was squandered would be a start. Is policy tightening really the best outcome to this? It stinks!

It is sad, because the dishonesty of one group, and the incompetence of its university, will generate a negative impression regarding all of the research groups and universities in Ireland. I certainly would be ashamed to be associated with such a shambolic research group.

I also think that Science Foundation Ireland must share some of the blame here. At the minimum, it should immediately suspend all payments to UCG, until this money is repaid.

I also wonder should the spending of other similar research groups be scrutinised more closely?

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Sep 08 2010

Falling Irish University Rankings

Category: Fourth Level,Third LevelTeknovis @ 12:42 pm

There is bad news for the Irish Universities in Trinity and UCD slip down world university rankings.

Unfortunately, this situation is only going to get worse given that the Irish Government is irrationally determined to put all of the nation’s resources into supporting failed banks :(


Jul 19 2010

Exemplar Network

Category: Fourth Level,Networks,TelecomsTeknovis @ 5:07 pm

During the weekend I read about Intune Networks and the Exemplar Network in Ireland’s next big thing – Govt commits extra €5m to Exemplar Network. It appears to be a very positive development, and I am delighted to see that it has such strong links to fourth level research.

The video Digital 21 – The Exemplar Network is worth looking at also. Unfortunately, I cannot embed it here :( It is funny to hear Eamon Ryan describe it as open source, and then realise that he does not actually know what that means :D

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Jul 16 2010

Irish Government Research Investment

Category: Fourth LevelTeknovis @ 1:05 pm

As always, I am delighted to read about the Irish Government investing in third and fourth level education. I am a product of the education system, so I am very familiar with how important this is to the Irish economy.

Today’s announcement is that the Government will invest 296€ million over the next six years. For more details see Govt commits €296m to third level research. (The article appears to confuse third level and fourth level.)

This certainly is great news, but part of it deeply concerns me:

The money will be spent funding buildings and also directly on individual research projects.

The article then continues:

Overall the funding announced comprises €260m to be spent on infrastructure and almost €100m to spend directly on research projects.

I really hope that I am wrong, but this looks like a construction industry investment rather than a research investment! The Government (through NAMA) already owns more property in this country than anybody else. A lot of this property is commercial, and it is currently unused. This really makes me wonder who is the Government trying to support by creating more buildings!

It really is depressing, especially since this is not the first time that this has happened. For example, I wrote about this in Irish Government Research Investment. I have many friends currently involved in research in the Dublin Universities. There certainly is a shortage of money. However, I do not think that any of them would prioritise buildings above more people or equipment!

As an aside, I wonder how much of the previous 300€ million is being included in today’s announcement.

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Jul 21 2009

Accepted Ideas from the Ideas Campaign

Category: Entrepreneurship,Fourth LevelTeknovis @ 11:10 pm

The Irish Government will implement 17 of the suggestions from the Ideas Campaign, as described in Recession ideas to be acted upon.

There were two ideas that caught my attention. The first idea is:

Provide a one-stop-shop virtual helpdesk for start-ups with advice on legal, HR, patents, accountancy issues etc.

I think that is a great idea, and I can easily imagine it being very useful. I guess that funding it will be a problem :(

The second idea that caught my attention is:

Teach business skills as part of all PhD education as a means of promoting the knowledge economy

This sounds great, but I seriously doubt that many PhD students would be interested in this :o Generally, PhD students just want to focus on their research, and they generally dislike attending classes of any type :o

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Jun 15 2009

Science Foundation Ireland Research Commercialisation

Category: Fourth LevelTeknovis @ 12:49 pm

Science Foundation Ireland has announced the creation of a new fund to commercialise existing research that it is funding. The fund is called the Technology and Innovation Development Award (TIDA), and you can read more about it in Technology and Innovation Development Award (TIDA).

The maximum grant size is 100,000€ over 12 months. I think that is a really significant amount, and it should be enough to determine if existing research has commercial potential.

I am actually surprised that Science Foundation Ireland is doing this, because I thought that commercialisation was under the remit of Enterprise Ireland.

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Apr 08 2009

Science Foundation Ireland Strategic Research Clusters

Category: Fourth LevelTeknovis @ 10:04 pm

Earlier this year Science Foundation Ireland announced the creation of five new Strategic Research Clusters with an investment of 23.9€ million. (I should have written about these at the time, but better late than never :)

Two of these projects are of interest to me (because they are ICT related):

  • Clique is analysing data graphs and networks. This project is based in UCD.
  • FAME is investigating end-to-end communications over heterogeneous networks. This project is based in TSSG.

For more details about this announcement see Tánaiste announces establishment of 5 New Science Foundation Ireland Strategic Research Clusters, and for the complete set of Strategic Research Clusters projects see Strategic Research Clusters.

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Apr 01 2009

Unfilled Computing Research Positions in UCD

Category: Fourth LevelTeknovis @ 6:20 pm

There was a story in one of the Irish national newspapers earlier this week claiming that UCD was having difficulty filling up to 33 computing research positions. The full story is Wanted: 33 smart people for top posts, and the positions are described in Vacancies.

I thought that this was very surprising when I read it initially, but after further investigation I think that it is understandable.

Firstly, 23 of these 33 positions are for PhD studentships. The successful candidates will receive a tax-free salary of 18,500€. I do not think that this level of remuneration will attract anybody of the right calibre who is already working in industry. Most likely, it will only appeal to graduates.

The other issue that I see with these positions is that they are based on formal methods. I know that this area is significant within the computer science world, but I do not think that industry has much interest in this area. Therefore, it is less likely that the successful candidates will learn significant transferable skills.

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