Neil Morris of AWS cutting the ribbon on the ISE space in UL
Neil Morris, Country Lead of AWS in Ireland with Professor Patrick Ryan of UL cutting the ribbon on the ISE space in UL Picture: Alan Place
Thursday, 12 October 2023

The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Country Lead in Ireland has stressed the “vital importance” of industry collaborating with academia to solve complex societal challenges and meet skillsets needed for the future.

Neil Morris, Country Lead of AWS in Ireland, was speaking during a visit to University of Limerick where he met with students and staff of the University’s new Immersive Software Engineering (ISE) degree.

ISE exists to disrupt traditional computer science education and is an integrated Bachelor/Masters degree programme where students learn by doing, getting a Masters degree in under four years with lots of time in industry, ensuring they will be highly sought after.

Students learn in a newly renovated, bespoke studio space in UL, which can support up to 150 students. Mr Morris opened one of the large new spaces on his visit after meeting ISE’s students and staff.

AWS has endowed a prestigious fellowship to bring the world’s best researchers and teachers to UL to work with these exceptional students. AWS is also supplying learning resources, computing time, and internships for ISE students.

Through the fellowship, AWS is supporting outreach programmes to schools showcasing the kinds of careers available to potential software engineers.

ISE students can also work within AWS at a high level as part of their degree, where they spend 50 per cent of their time with several companies such as AWS, Stripe and Analog Devices.

Commenting on UL’s collaboration with AWS, University of Limerick President Professor Kerstin Mey said: “ISE is one of UL’s flagship programmes, and we are immensely proud of our association with AWS, particularly their willingness to help us innovate in our programmes.

“In the intersection of academia and industry lies the crucible where knowledge transforms into innovation, and where the skills of the future are forged. For our students and the graduates of tomorrow, it is in this collaborative synergy that we find the solutions to our most complex societal challenges, and the key to empowering the next generation with the skillsets needed to shape a brighter tomorrow,” Professor Mey added.

AWS Ireland Lead Neil Morris said: “I am delighted to meet students taking part in the Global Fellowships programme, which is part of the BSc/MSc in Immersive Software Engineering course in University of Limerick.

“AWS is committed to supporting educational development across Ireland and we are proud to support the innovative academic team here, who have developed this unique programme.

“Practical, applied learning is of vital importance in equipping today’s students for the modern workplace - that’s what really differentiates this course from the others.

“Nothing beats solving real-life challenges and AWS is very glad to have some of these students work alongside us as part of their fieldwork.

“These students are the industry leaders of the future and I am determined to continue championing their skills and supporting them in their journey as tech innovators.

“This collaboration between AWS and UL is a great example of what industry and educational bodies can achieve when they work together and my hope is that the wider tech industry will continue to consider how they can come together to develop the talent of tomorrow.”

ISE’s students are research-active, working with researchers at an early point in their careers, and AWS supports are invaluable in ensuring students can work with technologies at the forefront of software engineering.

ISE’s Course Director and Associate Professor in Software Design and Machine Learning JJ Collins said: “ISE is uniquely ambitious. So is AWS. Our collaboration is based on that ambition, and we are thrilled to work with Neil and his team in the years ahead on behalf of our students.”

ISE student Karl Gilmartin, who undertook his first residency at AWS, said of his experience: “My first ISE residency at AWS revolved around the principle of ‘learn by doing’. I was introduced into the realm of real-world challenges that directly impacted vital services. I had the chance to apply the fundamental skills I had acquired from the highly skilled and motivated teaching team at ISE while working and learning cutting-edge cloud technologies.

“Beyond the technical realm, my AWS residency proved to be a multifaceted learning experience, encompassing not only technical skills but also vital abilities like problem-solving, effective communication, and leadership.

“One of the most enriching aspects of my time at AWS was the unwavering support of an inclusive and encouraging team. This support defined my journey, facilitating continuous learning and personal growth. Through practical experience and teamwork, I actively contributed by implementing solutions within AWS’ global infrastructure to address the unique challenges we encountered,” he added.