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The Science Shop, ajoint collaboration between the University of Ulster and Queen's University which supports hundreds of community groups across Northern Ireland, has celebrated its 25th anniversary.

The Northern Ireland Science Shop benefits the community and voluntary sector across the region and is part of the wider European network of Science Shops. The Science Shops support community organisations in developing research projects which can be carried out by students as part of their degree programme.

Over the past 25 years the Science Shop has delivered almost 2,500 projects and worked with more than 650 community groups including sports clubs, youth groups and recycling centres in Northern Ireland.

One of the University of Ulster’s Science Shop winners is Tomas Gorman, a Social Policy with Politics graduate from the University of Ulster’s Jordanstown campus. Tomas worked with Trademark, an anti-sectarian organisation where he analysed worker-owned cooperatives to explore whether this represented a social policy approach to communal division and poverty.

One of the Queen’s University Science Shop Award winners is a group of final year Management students; Tim Greeves, Aaron Hunter, Sarah Maxwell and Leanne Millar. They worked with Bryson Recycling’s Claire McCallum through the Business Analysis module at the Queen’s University Management School. The students examined the productivity of Bryson Recycling’s new vehicle design comparing it to the design of their older vehicle and the implications for waste collection.

Commenting on the benefit of the Science Shop to the local community, Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said:

“The work carried out by the Science Shop projects is fantastic and has such a positive impact on our local communities. Not only do our communities benefit from the projects, the students also benefit from implementing the skills they have learnt during their degree studies. The Science Shop should be immensely proud of their achievements over the last 25 years.”

Professor Anne Moran, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Ulster said:

“The Science Shop is a 25 year partnership between both universities which continues to contribute valuable research expertise and enable knowledge transfer into the community and voluntary sectors.

“It is a mutually beneficial endeavour in which students can see how their skills and knowledge can be applied and make a difference in the real world, while the voluntary and community groups can access expertise and research data that can shape and inform their services, policies and strategies. I am confident that the University of Ulster and Queen’s University can continue to build upon the success of the Science Shop for future generations.”

Queen’s Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McElnay, said:

“The Science Shop is a powerful initiative harnessing the talents, knowledge and enthusiasm of students at Queen’s and the University of Ulster. Over the past 25 years, it has become a tremendous force for good, making a real impact on communities around Northern Ireland. It encourages students to apply their knowledge and learning to real-life problems, helps them to understand the challenges facing various groups within our society, and encourages them to give back to the community.

“Today’s celebration is a tremendous milestone for all involved in the Science Shop, and both the universities and the community groups with whom they have worked over years should be extremely proud of this success story.”

The Science Shops at Queen’s University and the University of Ulster is a joint community resource and are funded by the Department for Employment and Learning through their Higher Education Innovation Fund.