CAIRDE: The Community Awareness Initiatives Responsibly Directed by Engineers

The CAIRDE (an Irish word for ‘friends’) Program is embedded in several undergraduate programmes in the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway. Using a model of experiential learning, the purpose behind the programme remains to encourage students towards community engagement by challenging them to develop a self-directed project that applies skills gained in their academic preparation in order to address a real need for an individual or group in the wider community. During the Scrapheap Challenge, for example, our undergraduate students work with children from local communities to build bicycles, from materials available in a scrapheap. Reflection is central to the process and requires students to both consider their learning about the community as well as the further development of their engineering skills. In 2010, the Programme received the 2nd Mac Jannet Prize award, from the Talloires Network.


We organise placement and work-experience programmes with various local schools to enthuse students about biomedical engineering science. On the programme primary and secondary school students have the opportunity to extract biomolecules from various shark species, to see a beating cardiomyocyte, to fabricate a nano-devise, to improve their suturing skills and much more.


We organise laboratory-based training sessions for unemployed people with an interest in the biomedical industry. The ultimate goal of RETRAIN is to empower participants with necessary skills to gain employment in the booming Irish biomedical industry.