The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Engineers Ireland have unveiled a partnership to foster STEM skills development in Ireland.

The strategic partnership between Ireland’s independent public body responsible for the protection and improvement of our environment and the professional membership body for engineers in Ireland will focus on encouraging and inspiring the next generation of STEM talent by collaborating on the Engineers Ireland STEPS programme.

This programme is the only national full-time STEM outreach programme with a focus on engineering. The EPA through its direct involvement with the programme, also aims to advocate to young audiences about the importance of having a clean, healthy and well-protected environment, supporting a sustainable society and economy.

The STEPS programme aims to encourage and educate future generations of STEM talent by supporting industry and community leaders to engage with primary and secondary school pupils through a number of hands-on workshops and programmes.

Core initiatives

  • STEPS Engineering Your Future Programme, providing Transition Year Students with an immersive experience amongst engineering academia and organisations
  • STEPS Engineers Week (March 5-11, 2022), a campaign held annually to promote engineering as a career and the importance of the profession to Ireland
  • STEPS Young Engineers Award, a competition for 3rd and 4th class pupils to find Ireland’s next generation of engineering talent
  • STEPS Engineering Girl Guides and Brownie Badges, an initiative developed with the Irish Girl Guides

Engineer Laura Burke, director general, EPA, said: “At the EPA, engineers and STEM professionals, including scientists, hydrologists and microbiologists, are at the very heart of everything that we do. In our work, whether in assessing the quality of Ireland's environment, the pressures being placed on it and the societal responses to current and emerging environmental issues, all rely on the ingenuity and dedication of engineers and their STEM colleagues.

"We are delighted therefore to embark on this new strategic partnership with Engineers Ireland, to further boost the pipeline of STEM talent in Ireland and through Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme, we hope to communicate with young audiences about how science and engineering play a key part in preserving and improving our environment.”

Professor Orla Feely, president, Engineers Ireland, said: “We are delighted to collaborate with the EPA as a key partner in our youth-focused STEPS programme which aims to build the foundations of a lifelong interest or a potential career in STEM.  

Sustainable future

"An organisation like the EPA employs STEM professionals who are problem solving on a daily basis, so we are very pleased to team with such an important partner to further build awareness of the fantastic prospects that a career in STEM affords.

"Our members are encouraged in their roles to be drivers of a more sustainable future. The challenges we face, including from climate change, will all require and benefit from engineering.  We are pleased therefore, as a matter of course, to highlight the significance of sustainable engineering practices through STEPS, and the importance of the environment as a valuable asset to the people of Ireland.”  

Caroline Spillane, director general, Engineers Ireland, said: “The challenges of climate change and protecting our environment, which are integral to the work of the EPA, have engineering at their core. We are delighted to partner with the EPA and thank them for their wonderful support for our STEPS programme. 

"We also look forward to supporting the Agency in their important advocacy and environmental-awareness work. Engineers and others working in STEM fields will have crucial roles in developing sustainable solutions for Ireland over the coming years.  And behind every design-led engineering sustainable solution, will be communities and families that will benefit.”