Colin Doherty from Re-Gen Waste is presented with the ‘Next Generation Initiative - SME’ Award by Ryan McAleer, business correspondent for The Irish News

‘Full STEAM ahead’ as Re-Gen prepares next generation of engineers

“IT’S teaching in a way that I really haven’t seen before . . . ”

Those are the words of Ciara Monaghan, principal of St Laurence O’Toole’s PS, to describe the cross-community educational partnership run by Re-Gen and the STEAM Education model.

The initiative was central to Newry-based Re-Gen winning the Next Generation Initiative (SME) award at the Irish News workplace & Employment Awards.

The STEAM Education initiative is growing the next generation of engineers by inspiring a love of science, technology, engineering, arts and maths in P7 pupils.

Developing state-of-the-art technology is second nature to the three engineering brothers who established Re-Gen Waste in 2004 with a mission to achieve zero waste to landfill and to make our futures cleaner.

In less than two decades, Joseph, Aidan and Colin Doherty have developed one of Europe’s most advanced materials recovery facilities.

Combining engineering feats of excellence, innovation, and business acumen, they are dedicated to developing future generations – and those engineering skills are now being taken into the classroom.

Working in partnership with others comes naturally to the Doherty brothers and their staff. In addition to being a top five waste processor in the UK, an international exporter and employer of 300 people in South Armagh and South Down, Re-Gen has been recognised as a ‘STEAM company’.

Its mission is to achieve zero waste to landfill and make our future cleaner. Its unique – and what students describe as ‘cool’ – schools
programmes explore how people, particularly engineers, approach the challenges of today’s modern work an how problems are solved for the benefit of everyone

STEAM Education trains professional engineers, scientists, technologists and others to work alongside primary school teachers through hands-on, activity-led, challenging projects to the varied fields involved. STEAM is engaging and enthusing thousands of children in primary schools across Ireland.

Re-Gen undertook to deliver a five-week ‘Engineering-in-a-box’ programme in five schools in County Armagh, co-teaching with teachers in the classroom setting. It wanted to inform P7 pupils, specifically girls, of the opportunities in engineering and potential careers.

The Re-Gen Waste team, led by technical development manager Louth McMahon and Tiarnan O’Hare, brought engineering to life for schoolchildren, working on infrastructure, energy, transport, biomedical engineering and electronics.

Bridges, windmills, ships, levers, pulleys and prosthetics were among the practical lessons involving pupils through their partnership with Re-Gen Waste and STEAM Education’s programme.

The programme explores how people, in particular engineers, approach the challenges of today’s modern world and how problems are solved for the benefit of everyone.

It highlights the importance of buildings and infrastructure, the need to create more efficient and sustainable energy systems, and the importance of resources and recycling.

In the classroom, this translates to children working on lessons where they construct buildings using lollipop sticks and designing water and wind turbines from recyclable materials.

Sinéad McGleenon, STEAM client and schools engagement executive, said: “From an educational point of view, it is brilliant for primary children to learn about engineering from a young age, while also seeing the importance of engineers and engineering in their locality. Through this exciting project between primary schools, STEAM Education and Re-Gen, we have hopefully inspired the next generation of future engineers.”