She has been very active nationally in the promotion of STEM, and in 2006 co-founded Maths Week, now the biggest maths festival of its kind in the world
Dr Sheila Donegan, Director of Calmast Waterford Institute of Technology, STEM engagement centre was awarded the Network Waterford Business Woman of the year award in the STEM category at an awards ceremony on Friday in the Theatre Royal Waterford.
The Network Ireland Waterford Business Woman of the year awards recognise and celebrate extraordinary women in business across all areas of the Irish and international business world. There were a numbers of awards presented including emerging Business, small SME, social enterprise and Art.
Dr Donegan received the award for her role in public engagement and promotion of STEM. Since 2003, Dr Donegan has been director of Calmast, WIT’s STEM engagement centre and has been very active promoting STEM with regional, national and international activity. Calmast promotes all areas of STEM to all. Established in 2003 Calmast activities have scale and impact, reaching 20,000 annually in SE and 400,000 nationally (Maths Week).
“I am delighted and honoured to win this prestigious award, said Dr Donegan. “It's great to see the importance of STEM recognised by Network Ireland, with this new award for STEM. “It's important that everyone but in particular girls and young women realise that there are many rewarding careers in STEM available to them. I hope that by winning this award, I can continue to work as a role model and encourage more young women to engage with STEM This award endorses the importance of the work in promoting STEM which is benefiting women and wider society, which needs greater focus particularly for young women."
Sheila has been very active on the national stage in the promotion of STEM, and in 2006 cofounded Maths Week with her colleague in Calmast, Eoin Gill . In 2018, over 400,000 participated in Maths Week Ireland, making it the biggest maths festival of its kind in the world. This model is now being replicated in Scotland, Madrid, Oxford, and there are plans for a UK Maths Week.
Calmast works to promote STEM as part of culture founding the Robert Boyle Summer school to engage scientists and non-scientists in important “big-picture” science. The summer school takes place in Waterford and Lismore this year June 21-23, and the theme this tear is “Superhuman”.
Through Calmast ‘s multifaceted programmes in STEM, Sheila has made an outstanding contribution to STEM, raising awareness of STEM to all ages and all abilities. She has developed many STEM activities for schools and the public, and developed the centre to be the STEM Hub for the Southeast, working with schools, industry and the public with 20,000 participating regionally. The Centres latest festival was the Bealtaine Living Earth festival with over 85 events celebrating biodiversity and our living Earth, coordinated by Cordula Weiss, herself a finalist in the Network Waterford Rising Star category.
Awards and accolades
Sheila has won many national and international awards for her work including In 2006 the EU Descartes award, (EU’’s highest award in science communication, and won previously by Sir David Attenborough and Bill Bryson) for Eureka , a weekly primary science magazine with Irish Independent, which she won with colleague Eoin Gill.
Sheila is currently a member of the NCCA Board of Science studies, a member of the RDS Science and Technology Committee, and in 2016 was elected to the Council of the RDS. She is the Chair of the Royal Society of Chemistry Education Division (Ireland) and serves on the Education Council of the RSC Division (UK)
Sheila will now represent the Waterford Network branch at the national finals in Cork in September.