Technology Education Tour of Ireland with t4

Irish hotels are great to include breakfast.  I had breakfast this morning with Remy, Director of Science and Technology in Education for Rwanda.  Remy told me his story.  As a young boy he moved quickly from village to village to run from the Genocide.  By the time he finished Primary school, he had attended different 10 schools.  In each school, there were no books or papers for Remy so he just used to listen to the teacher and memorized everything.

After the tragedy, he attended Kigali Institute of Technology and as a result of his achievements, received a scholarship to obtain his Master’s degree in Scotland.  Although he was courted by many high tech companies to remain and work in Scotland, his calling was to return to Rwanda and help his country begin to rebuild through education.

Now he leads his fellow educators, Pascal and John, to learn about the t4 curriculum, projects and assessments and form technology-skills based learning program for Rwanda.

Director Bernard Kirk, t4 Galway education center, created a warm reception for the Rwandans.  The entrance way was filled with sketches from a local artist and artwork from students.  Tea and coffee was served from big pots – but never bought into an office or a classroom.  Instead, t4 members would drink coffee or eat lunch around a stone fireplace; there was always interesting conversation about students’ future.

The classrooms were contained state of the art computers and represent a place where thousands of teachers have participated in professional development.   This was also the home to some of the project development.   Martin Cassidy explained how first 40 teachers from all over Ireland were trained and developed projects.  These teachers in turn trained 1800 teachers.  Martin explained some of the projects and assessments.  I wished Martin was my teacher.  He was exciting and passionate about design and made learning fun. 

Building a robot with john and martin of t4 and rwanda 

The Rwandans and I got to build a robot, going through the same procedures a teacher would learn and a student would create.    This is a very low cost robot but provides all the core concepts.  The students must learn to program to control robot motion, determine the electrical components, and manufacture the printed circuit board, solder, and test.  The robots had a specific task to perform and then the students could develop other options. There was a control layout software application,  Genie Design Studio and a schematic software application, Circuit Wizard, to produce the layout to manufacture the Printed Circuit Board. 

T4-Rwanda-building a robot 
Patrick Lynch Regional Development Director, Berard Kirk, Director of Galway t4 education center, David and Martin all showed support to the Rwandans that represented technology secondary education, univeristy education and the ministry of educcation.

With thousands of students learning robotics in schools, it is no wonder why Irish students have done so well in robot competitions and other design competions.  Their work has caught the attention of many in Ireland, including Irish President, Mary McAleese.  Ireland is a young country – 40% of  its popultation is under the age of 25.  The Irish have made a major investment in technology education, in their future.

Marie Planchard

Marie Planchard

Senior Director, Early Engagement, 3DEXPERIENCE Works at Dassault Systemes
Marie Planchard is an education and engineering advocate. As Senior Director of Education & Early Engagement, SOLIDWORKS, she is responsible for global development of content and social outreach for the 3DEXPERIENCE Works products across all levels of learning including educational institutions, Fab Labs, and entrepreneurship.
Marie Planchard