Waterford IT launches landmark strategic research professor programme with UK

Waterford IT launches landmark strategic research professor programme with UK

Dr Ken Thomas, Prof Tony McNally and Dr Mark White

Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) is proud to collaborate with University of Warwick as part of its UK joint research professor initiative, the first scheme of its kind in the Irish Institute of Technology (IoT) sector.

Prof Tony McNally, a Carlow native and now Director of the International Institute for Nanocomposites Manufacturing (IINM), WMG at University of Warwick, is the first joint professor appointed by WIT.

The aim of the programme is to assign an eminent UK-based research professor to each School within the Institute to enhance WIT’s international partnerships, collaborations and research capability.

Under the governance and sponsorship of Dr Ken Thomas, School of Engineering in WIT, Prof Tony McNally will advise on the development of a research strategy and action plan for the Faculty of Engineering. 

Dr Thomas is keen to highlight that "such partnerships have the potential to greatly enhance the profile of the Schools and provide structured mentorship for WIT’s future research leaders, junior researchers and PhD students. In doing so, they can attract other distinguished academics, researchers and students to the Schools, Departments and to WIT.

"They can also assist in engaging industrial research investment and ultimately enhance WIT and Ireland’s global reputation as a research leader. The continued growth and development of these partnerships are a core feature of Technological University design and development.”

Speaking about this landmark occasion for WIT’s research community is Dr Mark White, Vice President of Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies in WIT. “The third level sector is constantly challenged to be innovative and creative when it comes to developing our research competence," he said.

"Our research funding structure is not on par with the traditional universities, and we can’t appoint joint professors at will.  This initiative facilitates distinguished UK colleagues to work with us and helps strengthen our research capability and our competence.  It also serves to give our UK colleagues a solid footprint in Ireland and Europe as the fallout of Brexit unfolds.”

Strategic partnerships with UK universities, and the enrolment of high calibre researchers and talent as joint research Professors, offers WIT many benefits. Plans to secure a total of six appointments by year end are underway with two further prominent UK based professors to partner with the School of Humanities and School of Education and Lifelong Learning, with an announcement to be made in the coming months.

Prof Tony McNally from University of Warwick comments on being the first joint professor appointed by WIT and outlines how not only will WIT benefit from this scheme, but also his own team of researchers.  

“I’m delighted to have been invited to participate in such a unique and innovate initiative," he said.

"I’m keenly aware of the strategic role a world class university can play in regional development and prosperity. WMG and the University of Warwick does this for the West Midlands, the traditional heartland of industrial England and I see WIT is doing the same for the south east of Ireland. I’m very much looking forward to working with Dr Thomas and the WIT family over the next two years.”

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