Posted: 28/02/16

A new Problem-Solving Initiative (PSI) aimed at enhancing the problem-solving ability of Ireland’s youth and raising awareness of the importance of these skills for society, the economy and science will take place over the next two years culminating in a weeklong Dublin event in 2017.  Run by the ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology, the PSI is funded under a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Discover Programme grant of €220,000.

The Problem-Solving Initiative will promote STEM career pathways for those who enjoy solving problems and encourage people of all ages to hone their lateral thinking skills by testing their minds with exciting puzzles and mind-bending challenges during 2016 and 2017. The programme of events will incorporate the hugely successful ADAPT Centre All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad (AILO) competition for secondary school students.  AILO challenges secondary school students to use problem-solving strategies to unlock the grammar of little-known languages to foster a generation of students who have excellent logical thinking. AILO has had 14,000 participants to date from all over the island.

The PSI will culminate in a weeklong problem-solving festival from 31st July – 5th August 2017. The festival week includes the ADAPT Centre’s successful bid to host the International Linguistics Olympiad in Ireland for the first time and 180 of the world’s top young linguistic problem-solvers from 35 countries will compete at Dublin City University. The PSI programme culminates in a family problem solving festival day in Dublin Castle.

According to a recent MIT paper, solving unstructured problems is a key skill for the 21st century workforce. Project lead for the PSI, Dr Cara Greene from the ADAPT Centre at DCU, said “There is something in this programme for all the family. Secondary school students can get involved in our free problem-solving workshops and the general public can improve their lateral thinking skills by trying the brain-teasers.  The family day in Dublin Castle will have fun problem-solving activities for toddlers, all the way up to teenagers and parents!”

Speaking about the PSI, Director of the ADAPT Centre and Professor of Computer Science at Trinity College Dublin, Vincent Wade said: “Technologies that link people, data and devices can provide the tools for confronting the challenges of our world.  This digital transformation needs individuals who have the knowledge and problem-solving skills to address real-world challenges.  The ADAPT Centre helps educate a new generation of problem solvers through initiatives such as the Problem-Solving Initiative.  The PSI will challenge and empower people to develop analytical skills and learn how to solve problems.  These transferrable skills are a critical requirement for the future leaders in STEM fields.”

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