Dr Paddy Tobin wins President's Teaching Excellence Award

Friday, August 23, 2013 Press Office
Press Release

Dr Paddy Tobin, a lecturer in the National Centre for Excellence in Furniture Design & Technology at the GMIT Letterfrack campus, is the recipient of the 2013 GMIT President’s Award for Teaching Excellence. He has played a key role in the development of GMIT furniture and technology programmes and is a key collaborator with organisations in industry, education and the community, nationally and internationally.

Dr Tobin, from Tourlestrane, Co Sligo, and now residing in Claregalway, Co Galway, began teaching at GMIT Letterfrack in 1996 when he took on the role of programme co-ordinator for the Bachelor of Science degree in Furniture Technology. He is currently programme chair on the B. Sc. (Hons) in Furniture Design & Manufacture and the B. Sc. (Hons) in Furniture and Wood Technology, and teaches Product Development, Project Management and Operations Management. He has taught students at all stages of undergraduate and post-graduate programmes, and has delivered short courses to industry. Annually, he organises industrial placements for some 50 GMIT students to countries such as USA, UK, Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Morocco, Zambia, Vietnam, and Thailand.

He has led several noteworthy community based projects in recent years including the securing of a new secondary school in his own community of Claregalway, and the establishment of a woodwork training centre in Zambia, Africa. He has also led the development of an on-going active collaboration with Virginia Tech University, USA, where he was appointed Adjunct Associate Professor in 2010. With GMIT he has been involved in many funded projects with Irish industry and his extensive contacts with industry generate many job opportunities for graduates.

Dr Tobin holds a BE (1988) and MBA (1994) from NUI Galway. Prior to joining GMIT he worked in several manufacturing industries including the furniture and wood products sector. He earned his PhD from NUIG in 2002, after a year-long career break conducting research in the USA. From 2005 to 2007 he went back to college part-time in GMIT and received the National Certificate in Furniture and Wood Technology.

Dermot O’Donovan, Head of Department at the GMIT National Centre for Excellence in Furniture Design & Technology at Letterfrack, says: “Paddy’s strategic talents have been invaluable to the growth and success of GMIT Letterfrack. His contribution to the advancement of GMIT Letterfrack programmes, their relevance and quality has helped to place the campus on both a national and international stage.”

“He is an early adopter and an avid user of technology in education and applies many innovative student-centred techniques in his teaching. He is well known for his mentoring approach to working with students and is particularly admired for the way he integrates real-life and industry into his teaching in placements, projects, field-trips, case-studies and examples. He constantly creates learning opportunities for students with industry and other external organisations, ranging from small workshops to large multinationals like Bose and Glen Dimplex. The esteem in which he is held is evidenced in many testimonials from students, graduates, colleagues, external examiners, and employers.

Dr Paddy Tobin says: “I am truly delighted to receive the GMIT President’s award. It’s a great honour when so many of my colleagues are equally deserving of such recognition. It’s also a testament to the Letterfrack students. We are very fortunate that our students are so interested and focused, with a great appetite for learning. It is genuinely rewarding to work with such students and assist in their learning and growth. ”

Graduates, colleagues and employers’ testimonials:

With Paddy what made the difference for me was having a lecturer who saw something in you as a student, who took time, who encouraged, motivated, who took you aside and said ‘you know you can do this!” Seamus Maguire (Graduate)

“He has a genuine passion for what he does. The applied learning projects that Paddy organizes through his vast contacts mean that we got a real taste of furniture design and manufacture, project management and product development before even leaving college.“ Pamela Browne (Graduate)

Year after year students are being inspired and enthused by Paddy’s imaginative and dedicated approach to teaching. My colleagues and I also regularly turn to Paddy for advice and assistance. He is always encouraging and enthusiastic and he always makes time.” Paul Leamy (Colleague)

“He has the remarkable ability to break down complex theories and processes into manageable steps that his students can easily grasp and over time, master. He continues to invest time beyond a reasonable commitment to ensure students have the adequate coaching, guidance and mentoring they need. “ Ciaran Hynes (External Examiner)

In my 25 years involved in industry education, I have never come across another person who displays the level of interest and understanding as Dr. Tobin. I have been surprised by his adaptability to changes in the industry, his ability to understand new methods, and his willingness and desire to get out in front of changing technology. He has always shown real concern for student’s careers and understands their strengths and interests.” Greg Porfido (Employer)