Fionn Murtagh’s Blog

Themes: information economy, intellectual property, research

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Athbheochan nuálaíochta amach romhainn, in Éirinn agus fud fad an domhain – leis an innealtóireacht i gcroí-lár ár dtodhchaí uile

leave a comment »

Alt é seo as: Engineers Journal, iris ag Cumann na nInnealtóirí.   Article from Engineers Journal, 1 Nov. 2016.

Na sleamhnáin den chur i láthair ag Fionnbarra Ó Brolcháin, tá siad le fáil anseo.

Agus an léacht ar YouTube – the lecture and the discussion that followed on YouTube.

Fionn Murtagh looks at the role of engineering in Ireland’s sustainable innovation future in a globalised economy. Murtagh focuses on Finbarr Bradley’s latest book, Gombeens at the Gate, and the lecture delivered by Bradley in Clyde Road, as Gaeilge, on engineering’s impact on educational and economic issues.

Elec

Essential role of engineering in Ireland’s sustainable innovation future in a globalised economy

An ethos of broad economic and social innovation requires the central role of engineering. This article is about both the book, Gombeens at the Gate, by Fionnbarra Ó Brolcháin (Finbarr Bradley) and his An Roth lecture, as Gaeilge, in 22 Clyde Road, on Wednesday, October 12, 2016.  See this on YouTube.

Bradley holds that it is not knowledge itself but rather a culture of learning that is the essential ingredient needed in today’s economy and society. Innovation is driven not by the discovery of new knowledge itself but rather by identifying connections between all sources of knowledge to create value. There is a widespread misunderstanding that innovation and competitiveness depend exclusively on the amount of research and development funding. However, research centres on thinking and reflection, while innovation is about doing and valuing. The real need is to develop a learning economy founded on wisdom, understanding and meaning rather than accumulation of knowledge.

By becoming one of the most globalised economies in the world, Ireland has created a placeless view of itself, characterised by standardisation and uniformity, lack of emotional attachment and increasing mobility. To become  both rooted and global requires a renewed emphasis on the development of character and a deep sense of place. This in turn will lead to the development of high-calibre and internationally successful indigenous enterprises.

gombeens-at-the-gateFar from being ancient artefacts and non-economic, Ireland’s traditions, whether in storytelling, poetry, metaphor, folklore or mythology, if integrated properly with policies on science and technology, offer this country enormous advantage on the global scale.

Bradley draws from a clear and most interesting parallel perspective related to Éirí Amach na Cásca [Easter Rising], 1916. He contends that its revival and renaissance  was driven by profound innovation.  Bradley illustrates how Ireland’s economic and social future depends on being both globally engaged, and locally rooted. He also draws inspiration from the life and work of Earnán de Siúnta, also named Ernest Edwin Joynt. He was president of Engineers Ireland back in the 1920s, and was very much involved in the Celtic revival, and in education as a leading faculty member of what is now Dublin Institute of Technology.

Réamhrá anois


Ní féidir le nuálaíocht a chothú sa gheilleagar agus san tsochaí go ginearálta gan ról lárnach don innealtóireacht. Chun an obair atá ag gabháil le gach aon ghné den teicneolaíoch nó den eolaíocht a chur i gcrích, caithfidh an innealtóireacht a bheith i lár báire. Ciallaíonn sé sin go bhfuil géar-ghá ann chun go mbéadh meon na hinnealtóireachta go tiubh, go smior, go domhain, agus go lárnach i ngach uile gné den gheilleagar agus den tsochaí. Bíodh, mar sin, an innealtóireacht i lár an aonaigh againn agus i gcroí-lár na dtodhchaí agus na sochaí ar aon.

An innealtóireacht i gceart-lár nuálaíóchta agus dul chun cinn na hÉireann


Anuraidh, 2015, bhain an aiste seo leanas bua amach i gcomórtas liteartha an Oireachtais, sé sin Oireachtas na Gaeilge. Bhi bua ag an aiste seo sa chomórtas ar théama atá ag gabháil leis an innealtóireacht. Tá an aiste (10 leathanaigh) le feiceáil ar shuíomh An Roth. Údar na h-aiste seo, “Earnán de Siúnta, Innealtóir”, í Rosanna Lyons. Ainm eile ar Earnán de Siúnta ná Ernest Edwin Joynt. Bhí sé mar Uachtarán ar Chumann na nInnealtóírí sna fichidí den chéad seo caite, agus bhí baint aige le Ceardscoil Shráid Bolton, anois Institiúid Teicneolaíochta Bhaile Átha Cliath.

San aiste, tá sé seo le léamh inti: “Níor leor eolas lom teicniúil a thabhairt don innealtóir óg, mar theastaigh tuiscint leathan dhomhain ar an obair agus a feidhm. Ba mhó d’eolaíocht ná d’ealaín anois í.”

Agus seo ráiteas faoi saol Éanna: “Bhí tuiscint dhomhain fhealsúnach aige ar nádúr na hinnealtóireachta féin, agus chreid sé go bhféadfadh sí a bheith páirteach san iarracht Éire a athbheochan mar thír rathúil Ghaelach. Fear aislinge a bhí ann, a rinne a dhícheall innealtóirí na hÉireann a spreagadh chun a gcuid oibre a chur chun cinn mar ghné bheo láidir de shaol na hÉireann. Is fiú d’innealtóirí na hÉireann aird a thabhairt air agus iad ag dul i ngleic le dúshláin an lae inniu.”

Is breá an tuiscint sin a bheith le fáil inniú.  Chomh maith san aiste, tá cur síos ar shaothar de chiud Earnán de Siúnta i leith cúrsaí oideachais a linne.

Nuálaíocht in Éirinn agus fud fad an domhain


Beidh i bhfad níos mó faoi seo uile á phlé ag Fionnbarra Ó Brolcháin ag léacht An Roth aige, ar Dé Céadaoin an 12ú Deireadh Fómhair, ag tosnú ar 18:30. Nó mar a deirtear, beidh i bhfad Éireann níos mó ann! Beidh go leor leor ann sa léacht and sa phlé ina dhiaidh ar nuálaíocht, in Éirinn sa lá inniu, agus na laethanta amach romhainn. Dála an scéil, beidh an léacht seo craolta beo ar an idirlíon, chomh maith.

Sa cur síos ar an léacht seo, tá sé seo leanas ann. Cé go raibh na gluaiseachtaí a mhúnlaigh an Athbheochan cultúrtha agus ó thaobh gach a bhaineann leis an bpolaitíocht (deirimíd ón bhliain 1890 go dtí 1920), agus a spreag Éirí Amach na Cásca 1916 agus bunú an tSaorstáit, neamhspléach óna chéile, bhí siad idirghaolmhar agus bhí saintréithe áirithe lárnach i ngach ceann. San Athbheochan, chonaic siad siúd a bhí páirteach ann acmhainní cultúrtha agus nádúrtha mar ghnéithe rí-thábhachtacha in eitic nuálaíochta de bharr naisc idir féin-tuiscint, féin-mheas, féiniúlacht agus éiteas cruthaitheachta.

Sa lá atá inniú ann, nó go háirithe inniú, is iad na hacmhainní is luachmhaire agus is inbhuanaithí chun nuálaíocht a spreagadh ná iad atá neamhinste, an tsamhlaíocht agus an inspioráid, ach go háirithe. Ní déantán marbh frith-nua-aimseartha agus frith-gheilleagrach é an traidisiún agus cuimhne ach foinse dhinimiciúl agus uathúil, cineál gorlann cruthaitheachta agus fiontraíochta. Dá mbaintear níos mó feidhme as saintréithe mar iad, thiománfadh san núalaíocht inbhuanaithe agus todhchaí sochaí na tíre.

Luíonn gach atá anseo le nuálaíocht agus le hoideachas innealtóirí fud fad na cruinne, agus buntáistí faoi leith a bhaineann linnne in Éirinn nó as Éirinn.

Sin mar a bheidh le plé ag Fionnbarra Ó Brolcháin. Faoi seo uile, tá go leor leor ar fad ag gabháil le cúrsaí oideachais. San aimsir s’againne, nuair atá an-bhéim go deo ar a bheith ag iarraidh rang árd a ghabháil do gach ollscoil, is léir an méid seo leanas: gur chuí agus gur chóir aghaidh a thabhairt ar shaol na sochaí romhainn, agus go bhfuil sé riachtanach meon na hinnealtóieachta a bheith i lár báire mar gheall air sin.

Feicimíd ar cé chomh breá is atá cur síos ag Fionnbarra ina leabhar seo, Gombeens at the Gate, faoi nuálaíocht gur chóir a bheith ann, amach romhainn in Éirinn, agus i saol an domhain mhóir.

Meon na hinnealtóireachta mar bhunús na nuálaíochta romhainn, agus mar a luíonn sé sin go tréan le dea-thionchar uile de chultúr na hÉireann


Le fada an lá, agus ar gach aon slí, tá domhandú an gheilleagair agus na sochaí glactha go huile is go hiomlán ag tír na hÉireann. Le haghaidh an tsaoil amach romhainn anois, ba cheart agus ba chóir an saol domhandaithe a chur le chéile leis an saol fréamhaithe. Is cabhair é sin, cinnte, le haghaidh tionscnaimh nua a chur ar bun agus a chur chun cinn.

Luíonn traidisiúin na hÉireann go mór mór leis seo. Is deiseanna den scoth iad don cur chun cinn anseo. I measc na dtraidisiúin seo, tá scéalaíocht agus filíocht ann, meafair agus miotaseolaíocht, seanchas agus béaloideas. Is cabhair agus cúiteamh atá thar na bearta iad na traidisiúin againn go léir má ligtear dóibh a bheith imeasctha, lánpháirtithe, agus comhtháite le pholasaithe a ghabhann le heolaíocht agus le teicneolaíocht.

I láthair na huaire ní fheictear ach “geilleagar an eolais”, nó an geilleagar ag baint le cur amach. Agus ceaptar gur leor maoiniú le haghaidh taighde. Ach ní leor ábhair mhachnaimh amháin.  Ní foláir gníomhaíocht a bheith i gceist, le nuálaíocht, agus mar aon leis sin, luachanna na nuálaíochta a bheith go soiléir agus go deimhin. Leis sin, séard atá tábhachtach ná “geilleagar na foghlama”. Sé sin, gach a bhaineann le foghlaim san oideachas agus ar feadh an tsaoil go léir, a fheiceáil I gcroí-lár an gheilleagair. Is bunúsach é seo: go bhfoghlamaítear trí ghíomhaíocht. Trí níthe a bheith á dhéanamh, agus tionscnaimh agus mar sin de a bheith curtha i gcrích, sin an tslí chun foghlaim a bheith á dhéanamh. Nuair atáthar gníomhach, ag baint tairbhe as na deiseanna a bhíonn ann, agus spriocanna a bhaint amach, go minic agus fiú go ginearálta, bíonn luachanna ag gabháil le gach gné de sin. Ní hé a bheith ag bailiú nó ag carnú eolais. Ní foláir bheith gníomhach agus lena chois sin,  bheith ag foghlaim fud fad an tsaoil, sa bhaile agus i gcéin.

Is íontach breá an dearcadh faoi leith atá ag Fionnbarra, atá céim aige san innealtóireacht, cé gur sa ghort eacnamaíochta agus oideachais a chaith sé formhór dá shaol gairmiúil. Cúpla bliain ó shin, scríobh sé leabhar dár teideal, Meon Gaelach, Aigne Nuálaíoch.

Sin é é, bunús do hathbheochan nuálaíochta na hÉireann. Nó séard a bheidh romhainn, amach anseo, san athbheochan romhainn, ní hé amháin nuálaíocht ar aon dul le chultúr íontach, agus le chultúr faoi leith, cultúr uathúil na hÉireann, ach lámh le sin, smaointeoireacht agus ábhair mhachnaimh go léir, fréamhaithe i gcultúr an Ghaelachais, le cois a bheith domhandaithe. Agus le cúnamh Dé, nuálaíocht a bheidh mar athbheochan fud fad na cruinne s’againne.

Cé gur cinnte é go bhfuil dúshláin mhóra ann dúinn, ag an am céanna is deas é seo a thabhairt faoi deara: go bhfuil deiseanna atá go breá againn chomh maith. Sa léacht ar an 12ú Deireadh Fómhair, agus tá fáilte roimh chách chun a bheith i láthair, le craoladh beo, agus taifead de chomh maith, mar is gnáth, is breá go mór é go bhfuilimíd ag déanamh gach iarracht chun díriú ar na deiseanna seo.

Tá an t-alt seo le Fionn Ó Muircheartaigh, innealtóir agus matamaiticeoir, Ollamh le hEolaíocht Sonraí, Data Science, agus atá ina Chathaoirleach ar An Roth i gCumann na nInnealtóirí.

Advertisements

Written by Fionn Murtagh

2016/11/06 at 20:29

Research and Scholarship: Onwards towards Sustainability, Success and Stardom

leave a comment »

In some ways, the world of scholarship (highly respected) and research (always with ends in view, never in the abstract) were far more healthy, productive and creative back in the ’70s and beyond in the last century.  The norm for undergraduate courses (in engineering) included company formation, statistics was a well established discipline in its own right (but was disbanded in many universities in more recent decades), and mathematics had its rightful role as the most respected of all disciplines.

The world of research was more viable and sustainable insofar as sustaining one’s livelihood was foremost, and then one’s work was always with ambition and with universal problem solving in mind.

Among the many changes to this idyllic picture (of course, I have looked at some aspects only that outshine much of what is the case now) major funding of research came along in the 1990s, in some instances with beneficial results, but also with very dysfunctional results.

By establishing large research centres that were hermetically sealed off from undergraduate teaching and curriculum development, and mostly in different buildings and sometimes off-campus, not only were external keeps and moats built, but – to the misfortune of these research groups and centres in the medium and longer term – they are entirely cut off from their natural hinterland, and dependent on so-called “soft money”.  In a word, they are entirely unstainable.

The Irish context is a clear case in point.

In regard to scientific research, Dick Ahlstrom in the Irish Times notes that Ireland is “effectively without … a strategy [for scientific research] at the moment, without a long-term sense of purpose or direction that makes it clear where we want to be 10 or 20 years down the line. This is not helpful as scientific research is a long-term activity that yields results in a measured way.”

This is very true since the ending of the previous SSTI plan, Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2006-2013, that foresaw the doubling of PhD numbers by 2013 – why is an open question, but my own view always was that the great majority were to take up employment in Irish companies and corporates worldwide. The evidence is there that such has not happened.  As regards strategy, this has been replaced by a content-free framework, that has given carte blanche to significant misdirection of the ways and means used for public funding in this domain.

The upshot too is that in Ireland, “big business is putting its cash into overseas universities“.  This is very evident to those of us who work outside of Ireland.

In a clear and prescient article, Chris Horn has pointed to the looming crisis.  “What now for an Irish strategy for the multinational sector?”  He draws a balance sheet: “Why are there no […] debates on an urgently sought and new industrial strategy, and no visionary articulation from any of our political parties nor leaders? Where are our national industrial strategists and planners?”  This article by Chris Horn needs to be known as a key reference for our immediate future.

As is often the case, Finfacts has its hand on the pulse of what is going on, and calls a spade a spade.  It is super important to be clear about research for what, research of what.  Failing that, there is just the pure spin: “Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has an audacious or delusional new target: ‘in which Ireland in 2020 is the best country in the world for scientific research excellence and impact.'”

As Finfacts notes, “it’s striking how little policy making has changed since the economic crash.”  It is indeed audacious and delusional to put off to 2020 what needs to be addressed and acted on right now.

I will return to my theme of how research and scholarship can thrive and blossom, and overcome the delusional and dysfunctional nature of (some of) the powers that be – coupled with their wasteful and wanton, even destructive, inability to address our burgeoning challenges.

 

Written by Fionn Murtagh

2013/08/14 at 00:02

Responding to the Crisis – How Computing is Changing Everything

leave a comment »

Updating my article discussed below under “Student recruitment as an excellent indicator of the information economy” here are some udates from the CRA, Computing Research Association.

Given the sufficient data on which these trends are based, and also given how the North American trends often lead others, these trends are worthy of consideration.

  • Cumulative increase over last three years in new Bachelor students per department is 15.8%$ if only majors are considered.
  • Continuing upward trend in Computer Science PhD production. Up 5.7% from mid 2007 to mid 2008.
  • Unemployment rate for new PhDs less than 1%.
  • Continuing increasing trend for PhDs to go directly into industry. Now at 56.6%.
  • Academic employment by fresh PhDs continuing to decline. Now at 30%.
  • Proportion of women among CS PhDs now up to 20.5% in 2008.

From the National Science Foundation:

  • 2007 was fifth consecutive year of annual increases in PhDs produced.
  • Electrical engineering – fastest growing engineering field during the decade 1998-2007, with number of PhDs awarded increasing by 51.0%.

Written by Fionn Murtagh

2009/07/29 at 22:57

Posted in Uncategorized

Computing Undergraduate Recruitment Up – Sometimes Massively

leave a comment »

The news from the US (ACM TechNews, March 18, 2009) is good –

Computer Science Majors Increase at Most Significant Rate Since Dot Com Boom

The number of computer science majors enrolled in U.S. universities rose 8.1 percent in 2008, the first increase in six years, reports the Computing Research Association (CRA) in its 2007-2008 annual CRA Taulbee Survey. Total enrollment in computer science classes, including majors and pre-majors, rose 6.2 percent. “The upward surge of student interest is real and bigger than anyone expected,” says Peter Lee, CRA’s incoming chair. “The fact that computer science graduates usually find themselves in high-paying jobs accounts for part of the reversal. Increasingly students also are attracted to the intellectual depth and societal benefits of computing technology.

The Irish situation has seen increases in recruitment of up to 100% and more.

What is quite exciting is how this presages an economic upturn, as I have described in my blog entry below entitled “Student recruitment as an excellent indicator of the information economy”.

Written by Fionn Murtagh

2009/03/18 at 21:43

Posted in Uncategorized