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Women in STEM: Cork Engineer makes History

By Ciara Browne – Deputy News Editor

A Cork woman, Dr. Ann Kelleher, a University College Cork graduate of UCC’s electrical engineering programme, has made history. Dr. Kelleher is the first ever Irish person to be promoted to the role of Executive Vice President at Technology Giant Intel. The native Macroom woman joined the world’s largest semiconductor chip manufacturer in 1996, three years after becoming the first woman to receive a doctorate from the National Microelectronics Research Centre at the Tyndall National Institute at UCC. 

Intel Chief executive Pat Gelsinger tweeted on November 15th (@PGelsinger) saying “Thrilled to share that Dr. Ann Kelleher is now @intel Executive Vice President. So well reserved with her many contributions including the turnaround of our Tech Dev (Technology Development) organisation this past year.” The promotion brings a change for Dr. Kelleher as it is understood she will lead the team from the US multinational’s technology development site in Oregon, United States. 

Dr. Kelleher’s job will leave her responsible for the research, development and deployment of next generation silicon logic, packaging and test technologies that power the future of Intel’s innovation. Dr. Kelleher is focused on developing 5 nm and 7 nm process technology. 

Women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) comprise 29% of the overall STEM workforce and 52% of the college educated workforce (NSF). The number of women in board positions in STEM-related industries and fields in 2020 was 19.2%, an 18.3% increase over the 2019 year. Dr. Kelleher is advancing women in STEM with her promotion to Executive Vice President at Technology Giant Intel, an American multinational cooperation and technology company advancing semiconductor chip manufacturing by revenue. The company is also the developer of the X86 series of microprocessors, the processors found in most personal computers (PCs).

Many people agree that STEM is the key to innovation and job creation within the United States. Back in 2015-2017, former President of the United States, Barack Obama, continually made reference to the importance of STEM education in making the United States more competitive in the global economy. 

The STEM Policy of Ireland functions as Ireland’s national plan for the 2021-2026 time period. This plan aims to encourage the development of a better engaged and digitally fluent society and a highly skilled workforce throughout Ireland. The plan also aims to enhance Ireland’s image as a top education and training environment for all Europeans. As the plan title suggests, another objective is to facilitate entry to career fields related to STEM for every student, and to further the development of computational thinking and digital skills. 

Any UCC STEM degree can lead to some of the most exciting, exhilarating and rewarding careers on the planet. At UCC, the understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics is of fundamental importance to the way in which humankind and earth will develop during the 21st century and beyond. Female graduates of UCC’s college of science, Engineering and Food science can avail of exciting careers in STEM. Professor Sarah Culloty of UCC, Head of the College of Science, Engineering and Food Science, told female students to, “Consider what you are passionate about. A career in STEM is incredibly adaptable – you have a myriad of directions to go in post-graduation. From cyber security to climate change, from photonics to astrophysics, sustainable to water minimisation -STEM is the place to be right now.”