What motivated you to want to become an engineer?
I wanted a career where my work contributed to the interests of society including health, public welfare, and the environment. I always had an interest in science (particularly chemistry and Biology) and Maths so I chose an engineering degree over a primary Science degree as I felt Engineering offered a good combination of practical and academic learning. After 1st year, I chose to specialize in Chemical (Process) Engineering which is more about the process involved in the development of a chemical than the chemical itself (A lot more Maths & Physics than Chemistry! Think of the flow of liquid through a pipe or the heat transfer properties through a heat exchanger).
Ireland is particularly strong in the Life Sciences sector, now the third-largest exporter of pharmaceuticals nationally with 39% of national exports coming from Life Sciences alone. The industry is robust and offers a rewarding and fast-paced career that felt like a good fit.
How have you seen the Irish engineering landscape change throughout your career?
As an Engineer in the pharmaceutical industry the landscape is ever evolving. Our team provides solutions to real-life problems which may have a multitude of correct solutions. The industry must be dynamic and shift to implement new technologies as they become available. For example, my first role was part of a project team for a new single-use facility in Germany. The facility was manufacturing a Lenti-Viral vector for one of their CAR-T therapies. As part of the project we bought a single-use filtration skid from the supplier. This skid was novel and only the second ever single-use filtration skid that the supplier had produced. Fast forward 2.5 years and single-use technology is a staple of the biopharmaceutical sector.
Any new technology in your field that you are excited about?
How do you think engineers make a difference in the world?
Everyone in the world has felt the effects of COVID-19! IPS (myself included) have been working with a client in Ireland to support production of their COVID-19 vaccine. Traditionally, vaccine development is a long, complex process that could often last 5-10 years. This client brought the COVID-19 vaccine from research to market in just over a year which is a remarkable feat.
Can you please share advice that you have for anyone that is considering a career in engineering?
If you have an affinity for Physics and Maths I would highly recommend a career as an Engineer. An Engineering career can be highly rewarding (well paid, travel opportunities, varied and fast-paced) and whether you decide to specialize in Chemical, Mechanical, Instrumentation & Control, Automation, Electrical, Civil, Structural or Architectural you will contribute to safeguarding society.