The SPARC programme was first introduced in 2014 by UCD Teaching and Learning. In 2016 management of the programme transitioned to the UCD Career Development Centre. To date, eighteen projects have been given funding of up to €1000 as well as project planning and implementation support. Each year a celebration event showcases the completed SPARC projects and recognises the efforts and achievements of the project teams.
The aim of the SPARC programme is to help students and staff bring to life ideas for improving the university experience or the wider community. It gives students and staff a unique opportunity to work as equal partners and to stand-out amongst their peers as innovative thinkers and leaders. By working in partnership staff and students will not only achieve meaningful project results, they will also have the opportunity to develop and enhance their working relationship and come to a greater understanding of each other’s roles within the university.
In addition to giving participants the opportunity to bring an idea to life, SPARC offers tremendous scope for personal and professional development.
For students and staff alike, SPARC provides a fantastic opportunity to enhance skills such as project management, problem-solving, communication, planning and organising, leadership and teamwork. Here’s what some previous SPARC participants have to say about their experience:
“This was invaluable experience for me. I had one on one mentoring with many staff members, who I learned a lot from.”
“I developed my communication and presentation skills”
“It was interesting to see the students' approach to the problems and how it differed from my own way of doing things.”
(UCD staff member)
“It has given me an opportunity to raise my academic profile within the school.”
(UCD staff member).
How it works
If your team’s SPARC application is successful, you will be notified mid November. All project teams are required to attend a project planning workshop in November/December. At this workshop the SPARC project teams work with a facilitator to map out their project plan, timeline and deliverables in more detail. Roles and responsibilities of each team member will also be agreed. Teams then have until the end of August to complete their projects, with the SPARC Programme Manager on hand to provide support as required. Funding of up to €1000 is available for each project and will be allocated as expenses arise.
Project teams are required to complete two reports during the project life cycle - one project update report (approx 300 words each) and a final project review report.