FTMTA News 23rd July 2015

Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Mechanisation

Good piece in today’s Official Irish Farmers Journal by James Maloney.

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Rosarie Crowley, Cork Farm Machinery and Gary Ryan, FTMTA discuss the new BSC in Agricultural Mechanisation

For anyone who is interested in farm machinery they will know, the pace of development over the last 10 years has been phenomenal. The technology in tractors, combines, and farm equipment has surpassed that of the motoring industry in some regards. Many manufacturers now claim that some of the electrical components used in the agricultural machinery sector today are on a par with those in modern aircraft.

The modern tractor is a distant relation of the tractors used in the ’90s and ’00s. This is partially due to the introduction of the emission regulations, engine management software, and the smart farming revolution that is closer than you think.

The FTMTA and its members recognised this need about three years ago. Conor Breen was president of the organisation at that time, and along with Donal Fitzpatrick who is the current president, the initial foundations were laid for a new degree course with IT Tralee.

Three years later this joint approach between FTMTA representatives, tractor manufacturer/distributor representatives and the Institute of Technology Tralee has resulted in the creation of a new third level course specifically designed to meet the needs of the modern farm machinery sector and those seeking to enter the industry as aspiring service people.

Requirements for entry

Students wishing to enrol on this programme will need to secure work placement from a suitable employer or sponsor. Once secured, the student must apply directly to the development office at IT Tralee. Students may also be required to take part in an interview.

Applicants will be required to have the following minimum academic qualifications:
Leaving Certificate: a total number of five different subjects at grade D or better. Required subjects are English ordinary level, Irish at ordinary level and mathematics at ordinary level.

Application process
Stage 1: Student must find a suitable sponsor for entry to the course.
Stage 2: Student applies directly to IT Tralee.
Stage 3: Interview process by IT Tralee to select suitable candidates.
Stage 4: Pending Leaving Certificate results and accepted offer, course work will commence this September.

Applicants must apply to IT Tralee no later than 7 August this year, with a suitable sponsor organised.

Rosarie Crowley of Cork Farm Machinery and council member of the FTMTA, has agreed to sponsor Ger Donovan, currently on placement at Cork Farm Machinery.
Rosarie believes that the investment by the company in training professional service staff will reap rewards in the long term for the business.

Rosarie said: “At the minute, there is a huge shortage of qualified service personnel to look after newer modern equipment, especially on the electronics and transmission side. This course gives Cork Farm Machinery the chance to grow our own staff from an early age to develop in the local area, and give our customers the best support we can.”

She believes that this structure will benefit the student, as they will have guaranteed employment in a niche area. The relationship between the students and sponsor will allow for ongoing mentoring and development throughout the entire course.

For Rosarie, there is a great personal satisfaction in watching the development of a young person as they grow in their role in the company. Cork Farm Machinery are looking for candidates that are passionate about machinery – this career decision is something that the students must really want for themselves for them to succeed in the industry.

Role of the sponsor

Provide training and support for the three-year course.
Mentoring and professional development.
Insight to machinery industry.
Franchise support.
Toolbox allowance.
Long-term career path.

Work placement

The student will undertake three periods of work placement over the duration of the programme. These placements will be of a minimum duration of 12 weeks each.

During each placement, the student will be required to undertake a minimum number of practical assignments from a prescribed list. This will be undertaken under the direct supervision of the work placement supervisor.

Each student will be required to maintain an e-portfolio for the placement. The e-portfolio will provide the student with a dynamic online platform allowing them to demonstrate and communicate their learning and advancement of skills over the course of their work placement. E-portfolios can facilitate students’ reflection on their own learning, leading to more awareness of learning strategies and needs and subsequently promote deeper learning. The student will record, in detail, the practical assignments undertaken during the placement and has full responsibility of how they present their learning evidence on the online platform.

The evidence may include video, audio, images, text-based documents, links, etc. The portfolio will be available for inspection and assessment on an ongoing basis by the academic work-placement supervisor based at IT Tralee.

At the end of the placement, the student will be required to make a presentation outlining the skills gained during the period. The student will also be given an oral examination on the prescribed skills covered during the placement.

Course programme

Year 1 Semester 1

Electricity.
Workshop processes.
Materials.
Mechanics of machinery.
Farm machinery 1.
Agri tractor technology 1.
Computer applications.

Year 1 Semester 2

Work placement 1 agri mech.
Year 2 Semester 3
Farm machinery 2.
Agri tractor technology 2.
Computer programming.
Electronics.
Customer service.
Workshop processes.
Materials 2

Year 2 Semester 4

Work placement 2 agri mech.

Year 3 Semester 5

Applied precision farming.
Instrumentation and interfacing.
Online.
Agri tractor technology 3.
Digital electronics.
Agri tractor technology 4.
Analogue electronics.
Agricultural policy.
Marketing and strategic planning.

Year 3 Semester 6

Work placement 3 agri mech.

At the moment, according to IT Tralee senior lecturer in Agricultural Mechanisation Fergal O’Sullivan, a student wishing to complete a similar programme would previously have had to travel to Britain. The cost of this from a business and personal level to the student may have been too great.

The new level seven degree course gives these students a chance to stay in Ireland, work in the community, and continue their sporting interests. The aim of the course is to develop young enthusiastic service personal educated to degree level. This course has been developed by demand from the industry, and is tailored to meet the needs of the industry now and in the future, according to Fergal.

Gary Ryan, CEO of the FTMTA, has developed the course in consensus with input from dealers and manufacturers. According to Gary, a training manager from one of the larger machinery manufacturers has told the FTMTA that on paper this course has the potential to be better than any agricultural training course available in Britain at the moment.

Gary believes that this course is set to meet the needs of the dealers on a local level. He said: “A contractor or farmer who invests thousands in modern hi-tech machinery has a valuable asset that needs to work effectively, and needs a professional competent support team behind him at the dealer’s yard.”

The graduates from this course are destined to provide this hi-tech service and backup in the future.

Financial support

The Irish Farmers Journal is delighted to be able to offer financial support to the young people interested in this career path. The Irish Farmers Journal will cover the full course fee for one year for the top student on the course.
Justin McCarthy, Irish Farmers Journal editor and CEO, said: “The farm machinery industry is worth in the region of €550m to Ireland. The development of this course by the FTMTA and IT Tralee is driven by need, that gives genuine credibility to the degree programme, and keeps top Irish skills in Ireland where we want them.”

Be a part of a stronger farm machinery industry – join the Farm Tractor and Machinery Trade Association – contact FTMTA at 045 409309 or membership@ftmta.ie for details.

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