Pat McMahon Scholars

Established in 2012, our inbound Pat McMahon Scholarship provides Irish students with work experience at a San Jose technology company, academic studies at San Jose State University (SJSU) and Dublin City University (DCU), leading to a Master’s of Science and Engineering degree through our partnership with Cypress Semiconductor. The scholarship has covered our scholar’s fall semester at DCU, and the Spring semester at SJSU. While at SJSU, they live in the International House, where they have an opportunity to make friends from the U.S. and around the world, while living in a safe and supportive environment. Also, while at SJSU, they receive an internship at Cypress Semiconductor. When the semester is over, they are paid to work full-time at Cypress for the summer, before returning home to Ireland in September.

We are proud that these are the first graduate level scholarship exchanges to be offered by a US-Irish sister city program, and the first scholarship of its kind among the Sister Cities International (SCI) network. Considering that 40 percent of all direct foreign investment (DFI) in Ireland comes from within 25 miles of San Jose, the exchange deepens existing strong economic ties while providing San Jose companies with access to Ireland’s most promising engineering talent.

In 2018, we realized our dream to extend our Pat McMahon Series to include an outbound scholarship that selects a San Jose State University graduate student from the College of Humanities and the Arts to study at Dublin City University in Dublin, Ireland.

Your donation helps San José Dublin Sister City Program, Inc. support the Pat McMahon Masters Level Exchange Scholarship Series and its other activities.

Please note: Due to COVID-19, both scholarship programs are on hold, but we anticipate reactivation in 2022.

Niall Lyons

Niall Lyons was awarded our 2019-2020 inbound scholarship while studying for his undergraduate degree in Computer Applications at Dublin City University (DCU). The opportunity to attend SJSU and gain exposure to different people and types of teaching were highlights, along with living at SJSU International House, which provided him the opportunity to experience different cultures and foods and make lifelong friends.

The highlight of Niall’s exchange experience was the opportunity to work and do his thesis at Cypress Semiconductor, now called Infineon, where combining the hardware side with the machine learning side was a perfect fit for him. Today, he continues his work with Cypress Semiconductor on the machine learning team across an array of interesting problems and projects.

Regarding the Pat McMahon Master’s Level Scholarship, Niall recommends, “If you want to change your life, have an unforgettable year, and become the best version of yourself, be sure to apply!”

Aoife Grady

Aoife Grady was our 2018-2019 inbound scholar. She earned a first class honors Bachelor of Electronic and Computer Engineering degree with a major in Electronic Systems and Devices from ON Semiconductor.

After completing her first semester on a Master’s degree in Electronic and Computer Engineering at Dublin City University (DCU), Aoife continued her studies at SJSU, while interning with Cypress Semiconductor, where she held a full-time position through the summer of 2019.

Aoife says her experience at the SJSU International house was a highlight that provided the opportunity to make friends and professional connections. Through mentorship on the internship program, she was introduced to women in the semiconductor industry community and made valuable connections. Today she works as a Deep Learning Software Engineer on Vision Computing for Intel Ireland.

“This exchange program opened my eyes to other cultures and allowed me to see that we have more similarities than differences,” she says. “It helped shape my career and bring my interests and academic passions to life.”

Megan Moriarty

Our 2019 outbound scholar is Megan Moriarty, a sculptor earning a Master of Fine Arts, Spatial Studies. Megan spent the Spring semester at Dublin City University (DCU) in her field of study, complemented by an opportunity to gain Academic Training experience in an organization in Dublin. In March, 2019, Megan sent this video update on her experiences there: click here to view the video.

Aidan Smyth

Our 2018 inbound scholar was Aidan Smyth. Born in Dublin in 1995, the eldest of five entered Dublin City University on an academic scholarship majoring in Systems and Devices. He achieved a first class honors Bachelor’s degree in Electronic and Computer Engineering. His studies included a semester at SJSU and a six-month internship at Cypress Semiconductor in Dublin, where he worked as a Co-op Design and Verification Engineer.

Aidan admits that when he started his internship, the company was doing little in artificial Intelligence (AI) related research or projects, so he created a project that solved a tricky indoor localization task using AI algorithms. His work garnered attention at the executive level, which landed him a full-time position. Aidan developed a suite of Perl test benches and an automated project menu system for design and verification engineers, and he now has a team working with him. “My undergraduate internship at Cypress Semiconductor was fantastic work experience,” he says.

Gurpreet Pannu

Our first outbound scholar to Dublin was Gurpreet Pannu, a second year Masters in Music Education student at San Jose State University. Raised in a small rural Central California farming town of 14,000 people, Gurpreet graduated from UC Davis with a BA in Music and a minor in Education. She describes herself as being captivated by music. Her passion is reflected in this sentiment, which she wrote in her scholarship application: “Music is the relation that binds people together, binds people to their cultures, religions, ethnicities, to family, friends, and even the stranger next to you.

Aside from her studies, her interests include performing as a musician, participating as a dancer in her cultural Punjabi folk dancing Giddha/Bhangra, and reading. She participated in UC Davis’ Aggie Marching Band-uh! for four years as a Baritone, and was selected to be on the only collegiate Giddha dance team in California. At SJSU, she directed the Young Musicians Program, providing an opportunity to low SES students to develop their love for the musical arts. She aspires to continue to offer students opportunities to access music through teaching and advocacy.

Áine Cahill

Our 2016-2017 inbound scholar was Áine Cahill, an electrical and electronic engineer from Dublin. She was awarded a first class honors degree and a gold medal in her Bachelor’s of Engineering, BAI, at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), and the Intel Leixlip Women in Technology Scholarship.

Her background includes academic and industry research on multiple continents, including a Naughton Fellowship on microwave signal processing at University of Notre Dame, Indiana; Bayesian optimal decision-making nanomaterials research in CRANN, TCD; and internships with Huawei Telecommunications in China and Biomedical Product Engineering at Laerdal Medical in Norway.

Áine says the scholarship provided a great opportunity to do a masters in electronic engineering, experience two universities and an industry placement, and travel to Silicon Valley. She enjoyed reading papers for the literature review and preparing code for her experiments, while documenting and reflecting on her findings.

Today Áine works on private federated learning at Apple. She credits the scholarship for providing her with the experience that made her more suitable for her current success.

“The scholarship exchange gave me great confidence and invaluable world experience,” she says. “The scholarship was exceptionally well organized, the people who participated in this program were so supportive, and I am immensely grateful for all the work they put into the program.”

Tessa Ronan

Tessa Ronan of Dublin was our 2015-2016 inbound scholarship recipient. She was awarded first class honors with her Bachelor of Science degree at DCU, earning the Lynam Medal for best overall academic performance. Previously, she studied Business, Economics and Social Sciences at Trinity College Dublin.

She was awarded a Naughton scholarship to carry out solar cell research in a biochemical engineering laboratory of University of Notre Dame, Indiana.

Tessa earned a Master’s degree in Electronic Systems from DCU. During her semester at SJSU and  internship at Cypress Semiconductor, she developed a Bluetooth Low Energy wireless sensor network for a project in precision agriculture. Later, as a full-time Cypress employee she worked in the RF Systems domain for IoT.

Tessa’s experience at Cypress had such an impact on her that she continues to work on embedded software today for a start-up in Golden, Colorado. Since joining the company, her role has grown to include motion planning and controls of autonomous vehicles. She says she would not be where she is today if not for the Scholarship. “This exchange shaped my life,” she says. “It was a fantastic opportunity and a really fun year.”

Louis Free

Our 2014-2015 scholarship inbound recipient was Electronic Engineer Louis Free of Dublin, who completed his programs and immediately embarked on a entrepreneurial company with contacts he made here in San Jose. He has since completed a PhD degree.


Andrew Kiernan

Our 2013-2014 inbound scholarship recipient was Electronic Systems scholar Andrew Kiernan of Dublin. He was awarded the Daniel O’Hare PhD scholarship and the Pat McMahon Master’s Level scholarship at the same time but he accepted the Sister City Scholarship. While in San Jose, despite being offered PhD funding through the Irish Research Council and the Master’s bursary scheme for Mechatronic Engineering, he decided to work for Cypress Semiconductor.

Working in Silicon Valley was a highlight that provided Andrew with the ability to be at the leading edge of technology development. Living in the SJSU International House showed him how connected the world really is and he continues to meet up with several of his fellow residents.

Cypress Semiconductor sold their True Touch department to Parade Technologies Ltd. in Seattle, Washington, where Andrew works today on touch screen technology. He credits the scholarship and his internship opportunity for his current career success.

“The scholarship exchange was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he says. “Affording an exchange like this would be out of the question in my hometown. Having this scholarship gives people the chance to work and study abroad.”

Barry Cannon

Barry Cannon was announced as our first inbound Pat McMahon Masters Level Exchange Scholarship recipient in October of 2012. He says he was encouraged by a senior professor at Dublin City University (DCU) to apply for the scholarship because it provided an exciting opportunity. His internship with Cypress Semiconductor put his affinity with technology to good use working in simulations. He credits the diversity of skills he acquired that helped him overcome many challenges and shape his work ethic to his experience at Cypress Semiconductor in 2013.

Following his graduation from DCU with a BSc in Applied Physics, Barry earned another BA in Commercial Modern Music from the British Irish Modern Music Institute of Dublin, BIMM.

The knowledge Barry gained during his exchange semester at SJSU and his internship at Cypress Semiconductor continue to play a prominent role in his current success as a Technical Writer in the 5G telecom industry in Gothenburg, Sweden.

“I am forever grateful to Tim Quigley of San Jose Dublin Sister City Program and Conor Brennan of Dublin City University for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he says. “I hope all future participants will hold their benefactors in the same high regard.”

Your donation helps San José Dublin Sister City Program, Inc. support the Pat McMahon Masters Level Exchange Scholarship Series and its other activities.