Project Name

The Advance Centre


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Project Team

  • Barry Twomey, Centre Director, UCD
  • Chris Bleakley, Lead PI, UCD
  • Kenneth Stanton, Lead PI, UCD
  • Xavier Velay, PI, ATU Sligo
  • James Wright, PI, TUD Tallaght

Centre team

  • Joanna Kozielec, Centre Manager, UCD
  • Louise O’Gorman, Centre Manager, ATU Sligo
  • Sinead O’Donovan, Marketing Manager, ATU Sligo

Provide a short description of the project

European growth is tied directly to its Digital Competencies. Funds are there to support company growth, but finding employees with the requisite skills is a limiting factor. Key areas identified by the European Commission for securing growth into the future are:

–        Cybersecurity

–        Recognition of Industry certifications

–        Compulsory computer science in education

The Advance Centre is a HCI Pillar 3 funding project to help address these skills needs. Across its 11 themes, there is a focus on 8 application areas, and three core competency areas (Data Science, Software Engineering and Cyber Security) that have been identified in almost all sectors. With new programmes in Cyber Security, from micro-credentials through to an MSc, the Advance Centre is aiming to address the skills shortage in this critical area over the coming years.

Recognition of Industrial Certifications, or from an academic perspective, recognition of prior learning is another area being actively explored by the Advance Centre, as well as other HCI Pillar 3 projects across the country. Strong collaboration with Industry Partners, as well as regional Education Technology Boards (ETBs), will be crucial to making the recognition of prior learning more transparent, as well as enabling non-traditional learners the opportunity to take level 7-9 courses where they wouldn’t typically meet prerequisites associated with completion of a University degree in a relevant or adjacent field.

For those learners coming to computer and data science late in their careers, shorter courses are a great way to remove the anxiety around returning to education. Providing flexible and part-time options is also critical to making these fields more accessible.


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Highlight interesting collaboration / partnerships

The Advance Centre recently collaborated with ATU this is a service available to those in the work place, returners to education and entrepreneurs seeking to upskill people and progress in their organisation. Further details are available at .


Advance Centre also collaborates with the UCD microcredentials team at UCD, whereby the Data Science, Health Data Analytics and Financial Maths course offerings are also offered on their platform as well as the details also being hosted on the new IUA Microcredentials portal which is due to launch in late Spring. Representatives from the ATU Higher Ed 4.0 and UCD RPL HCI Pillar 3 projects were invited to participate in a panel discussion at our recent Industry Forum – “Addressing key skills for Digital Transformation in Industry”.


The first cohort of students from an ATU Robotics module have visited IMR (Irish Manufacturing Research) Centre in Mullingar as an optional part of their course to get hands on experience with different manufacturing tools. This is being trialled, and adapted this year, with a plan to roll out the offering to UCD students in IMR and potentially the AMTCE in Dundalk next year.

Provide a brief summary of the project’s key enterprise engagements

Advance Centre has been actively engaging with key industry and membership bodies to promote the Centre’s offerings and range of events, such bodies include the IMR, Engineers Ireland, Regional Skills Networks, IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Cyber Skills Ireland and MIDAS etc. The centre has also reached out to our partner network and client companies of the various partner HEI alumni, marketing, corporate development and career divisions, along with direct engagement and contact of companies who have been met at various events and conferences held nationwide and also via webinars hosted by Advance Centre.


The Advance Industry Forum which is due to take place on March 24th has  just over 65 people attending from a range of companies in fintech, cyber security, IT, training and development, innovation and technology as well as the SME sector. Our current CRM database has grown extensively in the last 18 months, with just over 700 contacts from a wide range of companies and educational institutions.

Project Showcase

The new MSc in Cyber Security was designed with flexibility, and the learner in mind. The Certificate is largely aimed at Cyber Security Managers in a company, while the Diploma and MSc are more focused on practitioners, with more detailed content, and the option to use an industry test-case as the final project in the MSc.


The new Professional Diploma in Quantum Engineering and Computing is a good example of a flexible learning award. The learner needs to take four modules to complete the Diploma. While there is one core module, Introduction to Quantum Computing, there are nine optional modules. Any three of these can be taken to complete the programme, with the learner deciding what is most appropriate for their needs i.e. Computing, Engineering or a mix of both.


Advance Centre News and Insights (key highlights and events such as the visit of Minister Simon Harris to the centre in Sept 2022 Minister Simon Harris along with additional events, collaborations, marketing campaign activities and promotion of our various intakes are all listed on the news page section of the site


Social Media Channels

Twitter: @_advancecentre






Last updated: Monday 24 April 2023

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