ATU Launches European Partnership Project in the Furniture and Woodworking Sectors

Friday, February 24, 2023 Press Office
Press Releases
WoodCircle meeting in Barcelona.jpg

Atlantic Technological University (ATU) have recently been awarded lead partner of an exciting new two-year Erasmus+ Cooperation Partnership Project called WOODCircle.

The project aims to develop skills for the Circular Economy and Sustainability, targeted at students and younger workers (aged between 18 and 34 years) in the European furniture and woodworking sectors. 

The consortium involves organisations from four other European countries and builds upon the success of another recently completed project called WOODigital, that has been awarded “Best Practice” title by the French National Agency. The members of WOODCircle are:

Atlantic Technological University, Ireland;

Federazione Italiana Delle Industrie Del Legno Del Sughero Del Mobilee Dell' Arredamento Associazione and Consorzio Del Mobile Scpa, Italy;

Ambit – Living Spaces Cluster, Spain 

Fabunio - Association of Hungarian Furniture and Woodworking Industries, Hungary;

Interprofessionnelle Auvergne Rhone Alpes, France.

WOODCircle is responding to the twin transition of the furniture and woodworking industry, ensuring that those employed in the sector are capable of solving both environmental and technical issues. The project is aligned with the aspirations of the European Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan, embedding ethical processes and principles of sustainability within industry practices, e.g., waste elimination, design-for-life and promotion of eco-materials. 

The WOODCircle team led by ATU Connemara, will develop a learning portal where students can study these topics and assess their learning through their interaction with informative and engaging presentations, case studies and video content. The course will be multilingual, translated in 5 European languages and will be freely accessible. As part of the development and testing of the training materials, experts and students will be invited to undertake blended and physical mobilities across different European countries, where they will visit factories, universities, and research and vocational training centres. This also allows participants to expand their international networks and cultural awareness and learn from best European practice within the woodwork industry.

Of the recently completed and very successful WOODigital project, Dr Dermot O’Donovan, ATU project lead commented: 

“With WOODigital, we created a learning and assessment platform aimed at addressing the twin transition of ‘Green and Digital’ for young European woodworkers. The project outputs are freely available and can be used by students and those working in the sector. During the project, students and staff travelled to Italy and Spain and experienced state of the art automated manufacturing systems in the furniture and wood manufacturing sectors. To receive the ‘Best Practice’ award from the French National Agency, was a great endorsement of the quality of the project. We developed a strong relationship with our European partners and ATU applied for a new Erasmus+ project WOODCircle, focusing on skills for the circular economy. We were delighted to be successful in that Cooperation Partnership application with Léargas, and WOODCircle kicked off in October 2022.”

Paul Leamy, Head of ATU Connemara Campus, said: the WOODigital project addresses key digital skills for young workers in the European furniture and wood manufacturing sectors. Automated production, smart factories and enterprise resource management systems are key to efficient manufacturing and allow enterprises maximise the return from investments, resources and raw materials. Industry 4.0 can also play a key role in helping enterprises address Sustainable Development Goal 12, Responsible Consumption and Production. We now look forward to building upon the success of this project and working with the same European research and education organisations on WOODCircle.”  

WOODCircle  was initiated by a traditional kick-off meeting, that took place online in October 2022 and the first physical meeting will take place in ATU Connemara in May 2023. 

WOODCircle is led in ATU by Dr Dermot O’Donovan and researcher Piroska Kocsis and supported by the Irish national agency Léargas and funded by the European Commission. 

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