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Congratulations to Justin Cunningham and Fintan Lalor who are the winners of this year’s HEAnet Special Award at the BT Young Scientist 2021. Justin and Fintan won for their project “Aistrigh, The Smart Translator: Using Natural Language Processing Technology to Optimise Machine Translation in the Irish Language”. The award was virtually presented by HEAnet’s CEO, Kerrie Power.

Upon receiving the award, Justin and Fintan said: “We are delighted to receive this special award today. By winning this award we now understand the importance of our project. We believe our project is important because… It provides the most open use of any Neural Machine Translation Model within Irish to English, to date. Hopefully, news of our success shall spread and spark a new interest in Irish and that researchers with the community can use our toolkit to the field of Irish forward. Thank you, Go raibh míle maith agat.

HEAnet is proud to support BTYSTE over the last number of years. The 57th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition took place online for the first time and 2,500 students submitted their projects. BTYSTE continues to showcase inspiring projects, delivered by imaginative and gifted students every year.

This year’s projects covered a wide variety of topics, from COVID-19, the prevalence of social media and technology in our daily lives, ethnicity, gender studies, sports science, climate change, agricultural science, nutrition, solar power and biological diversity.

HEAnet’s BTYSTE Special Award goes to the project that shows the most practical and innovative use of network technology in performing background research for the project and/or collaborating with other team members, teachers etc.

One of HEAnet’s key projects, eduroam Everywhere, has been supported by the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD. Minister’s office published today a press release announcing the expansion of eduroam hotspots which can be found below and on the gov.ie website.

Minister Harris announces expansion of wifi roaming for students in 90 locations across the country in 2021

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today (5th January) announced the roll out of wifi roaming to further and higher education students in over 90 new locations across the country in 2021.

The initiative will aim to create extended virtual campuses and offer students multiple options to go online and connect to their Further and Higher Education institutions.

The initial 90 locations include some of the most isolated and rural communities in the country where access to broadband is a major challenge for many students.

The project, led by HEAnet in close co-operation with government departments and local authorities across the country, has already made eduroam available in a number of new locations including libraries in Longford and Galway as well as The Convention Centre Dublin and CHQ (Custom House Quay) in Dublin.

HEAnet will work to expand the service nationwide to locations which are accessible to students including transport services, municipal locations such as libraries, museums and public offices, and commercial locations like coffee shops and shopping centres.

Speaking today Minister Harris said: “Education is changing and we must constantly change to adapt to these advancements.

“Further and higher education is increasingly about learning on the move; earning and learning and part-time learning.

“COVID-19 has resulted in an increase in the use of remote learning but it is clear that access to modern technology and connectivity is essential.

“We have already announced a fund for student devices worth €15 million and today, we are announcing steps to improve connectivity.

“This is the start of a journey. It is not the end. We will continue to work with transport providers, local authorities, commercial organisations and others to do more to help support students with online learning.”

HEAnet’s CEO, Kerrie Power, said: “HEAnet recognised the opportunity to use its well-established eduroam wifi roaming service to help students address their connectivity challenges to continue their education in an increasingly online and off-campus reality.

“We would like to thank Minister Simon Harris for his support. HEAnet is now working together with stakeholders in government departments, local authorities and commercial locations to make eduroam Everywhere happen. Our ambition is to secure a better future for students by ensuring that all of them can continue to engage with their education as seamlessly and as equitably as possible.”

Notes to the Editor

What is eduroam?

eduroam stands for education roaming. It provides secure and easy-to-use wifi access in more than 12,000 locations across 106 countries worldwide. Students whose home institution participates in eduroam can simply open their laptop or mobile device within an eduroam hotspot to have immediate internet connectivity

What is the difference between free wifi and wifi roaming?

Public/Free wifi can be found in popular public places like airports, coffee shops, shopping malls, restaurants, and hotels — and it allows you to access the internet for free. The user is required to ask for the wifi password and enter details which will allow them to authenticate and connect to the Internet. As they move from outlet to outlet, this process will be required each time.
Wifi roaming – in the eduroam context – ensures that once a student authenticates on the eduroam network once, every time they are in an eduroam enabled hotspot, regardless of location worldwide, their device will authenticate

Click here to learn more about eduroam in Ireland.

We are delighted to announce that yesterday our Deputy CEO & Chief Technical Officer, Ronan Byrne, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the EOSC (European Open Science Cloud) Association.

The EOSC initiative has been proposed in 2016 by the European Commission as part of the European Cloud Initiative to build a competitive data and knowledge economy in Europe. The EOSC will offer 1.7 million European researchers and 70 million professionals in science, technology, the humanities and social sciences a virtual environment with open and seamless services for storage, management, analysis and re-use of research data, across borders and scientific disciplines by federating existing scientific data infrastructures, currently dispersed across disciplines and the EU Member States.

The EOSC Association held its first official General Assembly since becoming a legal entity where they elected its first President and Board of Directors. EOSC Association President, Karel Luyben, said in a statement: “It is truly an honour to be elected the first President of the EOSC Association. In my role as Chair of the EOSC Executive Board, I have had the great pleasure to work with a community that is as vibrant as it is diverse. Looking back on what we have achieved in Europe by working together – with the EOSC Declaration as an important milestone in 2017 – makes me proud to be part of this EOSC community. While recognising how far we have come, it is also clear that grand opportunities lie ahead.”

Speaking today, Ronan Byrne, said: “I am delighted to be elected as a member of the EOSC Association Board of Directors. I believe that the establishment of the EOSC Association and the advent of the EOSC Partnership is a most welcome and necessary development for open science, but also for European society generally.

I look forward to working collaboratively with its first President and the other Board Members to continue progress in the open science cloud space. We must continue to focus on this initiative which will further enable European scientists and researchers to tackle the grand challenges that we face in terms of climate, health, and societal wellbeing.”

 

Ronan has just concluded a two-year term as Ireland representative on the EOSC Governance Board. Ronan leads strategy development at HEAnet and a key pillar of the new HEAnet Strategy 2020-21 relates to research engagement and progression on our national open science ambitions.

Ronan’s career at HEAnet extends back to 2004 and he has overseen many large scale programmes over this time, including: development of the Schools Broadband Network; the Edugate national federated access service; establishment of an ICT Procurement Team that brokers in excess of €7m savings for the sector annually, and more recently, upgrade of national backbone network to 100Gb capacity.

 

HEAnet are involved in many international initiatives. Our CEO, Kerrie Power, was recently elected as a Board Member of GÉANT, you can read more it here.

HEAnet Group (HEAnet and its subsidiary company EduCampus) has been reaccredited with Ibec’s workplace wellness accreditation, The KeepWell Mark, as part of the ongoing commitment to employee wellness, health, and safety to its employees.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, this years’ audit has been completed online and HEAnet is proud to be among one of the first companies to complete the remote audit process. HEAnet has been initially awarded with The KeepWell Mark back in 2018, read more about it here: https://www.heanet.ie/news/heanet-group-achieves-accreditation-under-ibecs-keepwell-mark

The KeepWell Mark is an evidence based accreditation and award that recognises Irish employers for investing in workplace health and wellbeing. Its aim is to help business benchmark workplace wellbeing activity through a set of systematic and methodical steps. The framework includes a self assessment, an onsite assessment from an Ibec approved external assessor, and culminates with a report that outlines areas for improvement – allowing your business to chart its way to success.

The accreditation takes a holistic approach, focusing on eight key areas and how they impact our business.

These eight areas of improvement are:

  • Leadership how our organisation uses its policies and practices to create a working environment that is conducive to health
  • Absence Management – how information is used to help inform management practice, and support staff health and attendance
  • Smoke Free – The ways in which our organisation goes beyond the minimum legal requirements in encouraging staff to be smokefree
  • Physical Activity – how our organisation actively promotes the importance and benefits of regular physical activity and creates opportunities for our staff to become involved
  • Health & Safety – how our organisation monitors and improves health and safety
  • Mental Health – how the organisation protects and promotes the mental wellbeing of its staff including appropriated policies, management training, and support mechanisms.
  • Healthy Eating – The ways in which our organisation actively encourages and enables staff to eat healthily
  • Intoxicants – how our organisation responds to and provides solutions for problematic use of intoxicants

 

Speaking on The KeepWell Mark process, Katie Harris, People Operations Business Partner said: “Our commitment to employee wellness, health and safety is now more important than ever. Since the start of the pandemic, we recognized that we are not working from home, we are at home, during a crisis, trying to work. We have decided to enter the remote audit process for The KeepWell Mark to ensure we are on the right track and we are delighted with the results and learnings gained as part of the process.”

Sophie Moran, Programme Manager of The KeepWell Mark in Ibec said: “We’re delighted to award HEAnet with their second successive KeepWell Mark accreditation. The continued efforts they have made in supporting the health and wellbeing of their employees is to be highly commended, particularly in what has been a challenging year for the business community. We hope their commitment will inspire many other organisations to approach wellbeing as a strategic priority both now and in the future.”

Further information on The KeepWell Mark, its benefits and processes can be found here:

www.thekeepwellmark.ie

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