A Sign of Progress

The other day I saw this sign on my way into work. It has been put up near the Science Building on Maynooth University campus, and is a planning notice that hopefully will start the process of constructing extra buildings for science in Maynooth. Among the facilities the new buildings will provide are new teaching laboratories.

Currently, most students doing Science subjects here enter on a four-year general science programme that involves doing four subjects in the first year, becoming increasingly specialised thereafter. That’s not unlike the Natural Sciences course I did at Cambridge, except that students can do both Theoretical Physics and Experimental Physics in the first year as separate choices.

I like this programme because it does not force the students to choose a specialism before they have had a taste of the subject, and that it is flexible enough to accommodate Joint Honours qualifications in, e.g., Theoretical Physics and Mathematics.

The problem we have in Maynooth is that this structure combines with the limited laboratory space in the existing Science Building to create a bottleneck in the first year. We can’t increase our intake without increasing capacity in the labs. This is especially true for Chemistry, which is taken alongside Physics by some students and Biology by others. Increasing laboratory space for chemistry will actually help other disciplines.

It will take several years to construct the new building, and there will probably be a great deal of disruption when the work starts, but in the long run I think it will be worth it.

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3 Responses to “A Sign of Progress”

  1. Natural Sciences at Cambridge has a similar problem with Chemistry – all the Chemists take it (obviously), and so too do most of the Physicists, and a lot of Biologists – so Chemistry lab space is again the limiting factor.

  2. […] of our students do a four-year Bachelors programme in Science (as discussed briefly here) with a very general first year. Some, however, come directly into a programme called Theoretical […]

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