The Pat McMahon Masters Level Exchange Scholarship Series

The San José – Dublin Sister City Program’s first scholarship series provides Irish students with work experience at a San Jose technology company, academic training 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.

Our second scholarship series provides a San Jose State University (SJSU) student an opportunity to study at Dublin City University (DCU) in Dublin, Ireland.

Aoife Grady and Aidan Smyth

Our 2018 inbound scholar is Aoife Grady. Aoife is currently completing her final year of the Bachelor’s of Electronic and Computer Engineering, with a major in Electronic Systems and Devices at DCU. She aims to earn a first class honors in her degree. Her hobbies include travelling, swimming, hiking, and keeping active.

In 2017, we welcomed our sixth inbound Pat McMahon Scholarship recipient, Aidan Smyth to San Jose, and sent our first outbound scholar, Gurpreet Pannu, to Dublin.

Aidan Smyth was born in Dublin in 1995, the eldest in a family of five. Aidan entered Dublin City University on an academic scholarship and last year he achieved a first class honors Bachelor’s degree in Electronic and Computer Engineering, majoring in Systems and Devices. During the course of his studies he completed a six month internship at Cypress Semiconductor in Dublin, where he worked as a Co-op Design and Verification Engineer. While working at Cypress he developed a suite of Perl testbenches and an automated project menu system for design and verification engineers in Cypress. Aidan was both chairperson and instructor of the DCU Taekwondo club, and has a black belt in the sport. His other hobbies include working with the charitable Raspberry Pi project, playing Gaelic football and following the NFL.

Aidan completed a semester at San Jose State University, while Gurpreet  completed her semester at Dublin City University.

Aidan Smyth And Gurpreet Pannu

2017-2018 Pat McMahon Scholarship recipients Aidan Smyth And 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.

2016-2017 Pat McMahon Scholarship recipient Áine Cahill

In 2017, we welcomed 2016-2017 Pat McMahon Scholarship recipient Áine Cahill to San Jose from Dublin, Ireland. This is the fifth scholarship awarded by the program. Cahill is an electrical and electronic engineer from Dublin. She was awarded a first class honors degree and a gold medal in her Bachelors of Engineering, BAI, at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) in June 2016. A Trinity College scholar, she is also the recipient of the Intel Leixlip Women in Technology Scholarship.

Hers is a background rich in both academic and industry research experience. In 2015, she was awarded the Naughton Fellowship to perform summer research on microwave signal processing at Notre Dame University. During her Bachelor’s thesis at Trinity College, she performed research on Bayesian optimal decision-making and collaborated on nanomaterials research in CRANN, TCD. She then travelled to China for an internship with Huawei Telecommunications and has been doing research on medical device design in Laerdal, Norway this summer.

Áine Cahill is both a leader and a team-player. She is passionate about sports, especially triathlon and outdoor adventures, loves music and qualified with distinction as a piano teacher from the Royal Irish Academy of Music in 2013.


Left to Right, father Billy Ronan, Dublin Lord Mayor Críona Ní Dhálaigh, scholar Tessa Ronan, mother Fran Ronan, and US Embassy Charge d’Affaires, Stuart Dwyer.

Our 2015 scholarship recipient was Tessa Ronan of Dublin. Tessa was awarded first class honors with her Bachelor of Science degree at DCU, earning the Lynam Medal for best overall academic performance. Previously, Tessa studied Business, Economics and the Social Sciences in Trinity College Dublin, and in the summer of 2015 Tessa was awarded a Naughton scholarship to carry out solar cell research in a biochemical engineering laboratory of Notre Dame University, Dublin. Tessa interned at Cypress Semiconductor for the next few months and earned a Masters Degree in Electronic Engineering. During her Cypress internship, Tessa developed a Bluetooth Low Energy wireless sensor network for a project in precision agriculture and now, as a full-time Cypress employee, Tessa is working in the RF Systems domain for IoT.

US Scholarship Lunch. Copyright Fennell Photography 2015

US Scholarship Lunch with Left to Right, DCU President Brian McCraith, 2015 scholar Tessa Ronan, 2014 scholar Louis Free, SJD Community Chair Tim Quigley. Copyright Fennell Photography 2015

Tessa loves to travel, meet new people, and experience different cultures. She plays the piano (classical), and maintains interests in music, art and literature.

Our 2014 scholarship 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 while continuing to work on a PhD degree.

2014 scholarship winner Andrew Kiernan

2014 scholarship winner Andrew Kiernan

Our 2013 scholarship recipient was Electronic Systems scholar Andrew Kiernan of Dublin, who arrived in January 2014 and is presently working in Seattle at Parade Technologies, formerly a Cypress Semiconductor company on touch screen technology.

In October of 2012, Barry Cannon was announced as the first recipient of our first Pat McMahon Masters Level Exchange Scholarship in the Series, sponsored by Cypress Semiconductor.

Barry Cannon has now completed his programs and is back in Ireland pursuing a Masters Degree in Music at BIMM (British Irish Modern Music Institute of Dublin).


Barry Cannon, with Stephen “Tim” Quigley, President of San Jose – Dublin Sister City Program and Naoise Ó Muirí, Lord Mayor of Dublin in October 2012.

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.

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