Dr Austin Coffey, a lecturer in the Dept. of Engineering Technology at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) was recently appointed Visiting Professor to the University of Applied Sciences, Upper Austria, the largest university in this field in Austria, and an integral part of the Austrian third-level education system.
The Austrian university ethos is defined by regional scientific and research needs and a large proportion of lecturers are leaders in their industries and act as visiting professors on a short-term basis.
Dr Coffey, who has extensive experience in the Medical Technologies sector, lectured on Future Technologies and the use of new technologies in Product Development on the Masters programme in Innovation and Product Management in the School of Engineering and Environmental Studies, led by Professor Michael Rabl.
Dr Coffey said of his experience, “Lecturing in the economically prosperous region of Upper Austria, it was refreshing to note that the applied nature of delivery and problem solving was similar to the practices being used in the School of Engineering at WIT. This reaffirms that our efforts and instruction methods are best in class and relevant to the needs of regional industry”
Dr Coffey is the course director for the MSc in Innovative Technology Engineering at WIT, and this programme was recently awarded the Postgraduate Ireland Award for the Best Postgraduate Engineering Course for the Island of Ireland.
Dr Coffey said “This endeavour for internationalising the Austrian Masters in Innovation and Product Management will also have a mutually beneficial effect in the internationalisation of the Waterford Masters Programme in Innovative Technology Engineering, possibly leading to the development of a Double-Degree Programme.
“These ventures can assist a highly qualified graduate to become exposed to the many high technology areas which will ensure that the graduate will be flexible to support their company, and their region, and eventually assist in the re-emergence of Ireland as a sustainable knowledge economy.”
Immediately after his lecturing period in Austria, Dr Coffey was engaged in organising and chairing the European Medical Polymers section of EUROTECTM, the largest European polymer conference for 2011, in which over 300 industry applied research papers were presented. Conference attendees came from all five continents, and some of the world’s largest high technology organisations, making this international conference for the Society of Plastics Engineers in Europe a major success. The Society of Plastics Engineers is home to nearly 20,000 plastics professionals in more than 70 countries around the world.
Collaborations such as these support high value and sustainable industry, while cross fertilisation of best practice teaching methods and problem solving skills for technological convergence will serve to be a shining beacon of hope for green shoots of recovery for the regional economy of Ireland.