As part of Engineers Week 2018, three RPS engineers were interviewed by Ireland’s Engineers Journal on their reasons for choosing engineering as a career, what excites them about being an engineer and the challenges facing future engineers. The full article can be viewed here, but it is summarised below.
The path to engineering
Speaking about when she started to think of becoming an engineer, Louise Campion, Project Engineer in our Dublin office, noted that creativity and curiosity are at the core of how she perceives the world around her and perhaps she has always been an engineer at heart. “However, it was in secondary school that I took the first formal steps towards engineering. While the subject itself was not offered at the secondary school I attended, I chose science and art for my Leaving Certificate subjects, believing that engineering is a combination of these two schools of thought (and I wasn’t wrong!)” she added.
Kieran Garvey, Associate in our Galway office explained how he was influenced by seeing infrastructure development around him in Ennis, Co. Clare in the early 1990s: “Watching these projects progress and seeing how they changed the built environment around the town really was a major influence on my decision to choose civil engineering.”
Alison Delahunty, Project Engineer in our Cork office explains that she was unaware of engineering until she was 17. She attended an all-girls secondary school where the focus for third level education was on nursing and teaching. Given her enthusiasm for maths, physics and geography and her interest in architecture and impressive structures outside of the classroom, a brief chat with an external career guidance counsellor set her on the path to engineering. Alison noted however, that choosing engineering “was a risky decision at the time due to the decimation of the construction industry in Ireland. However, I was certain it was a solid career choice and I was comforted by the fact that a qualification in engineering travels well and is a pathway into many other disciplines.”
Engineering – different from initial expectations?
Asked about how his career has differed from his initial expectations, Kieran talked about his early career with RPS working in landfill and waste management infrastructure which he had never envisaged. “I really enjoyed it, however. So much of the early learning was ‘on the job’, which was hugely refreshing. Like most projects in civil engineering, it relied on the integration of various disciplines: geotechnical, drainage, roads, environmental management and so on – affording me good exposure to these fields.”
Alison had not foreseen how the title of your engineering degree does not limit you to that one aspect of engineering, “the basics of problem solving stand to you across many fields within the industry. For example, having initially qualified as a civil and environmental engineer in 2012, I have since been involved in utilities design, flood risk assessments, temporary works design, structural design, geotechnical design and health and safety.”
Louise talked about the variety of work and diverse stakeholder networks and all the other skills required of an engineer delivering projects that impact local communities as well as contributing to national or international strategy. “Engineering has diverse applications and the success of projects relies on multifaceted teams and collaborative input. As a professional in this field, I am not just an engineer – I am a planner, a designer, a scientist, a social entrepreneur and an advocate for environmental sustainability”, she concluded.
Most interesting aspects of engineering?
Asked about the most interesting aspects of engineering, our engineers talked about the variety of work, collaboration with project teams to deliver projects from concept to construction and the continually evolving sector. Alison noted how engineering provides new challenges every day, “you’re presented with a problem and you use your knowledge and common sense to produce a solution that is safe, functional and aesthetic.”
The next five years
When questioned on the exciting aspects of engineering over the next five years, all our engineers talked about advancements in technology. Kieran referred to BIM and the opportunity to develop new skillsets to plan, design, visualise and construct our projects more efficiently. Alison looks forward to the development of geotechnical engineering in Ireland as the industry realises the benefits of targeted ground investigation in informing the design process. Louise mentions the move towards a smarter, more sustainable and resilient future. “I see these challenges to include mitigating and adapting to climate change, ensuring energy security from indigenous resources, and the transition to a technology-driven economy which decouples GHG emissions from economic growth”, she added.
Would you recommend a career in engineering?
When asked this important question for many young people during Engineers Week 2018, our three engineers were 100% positive in their responses.
“Whether you love to crunch numbers or are more interested in contributing from a strategic level, engineering is so diverse, offering excellent opportunities for a career … If you are curious about the world around you and how you can shape its future, then engineering is for you.” Louise Campion
“Engineering, in all its forms, helps the world to function, from transport to energy to water and the digital economy. It offers a wealth of opportunities. Also, it is a well-respected degree and will stand to you if you decide to pursue a career outside of the engineering spectrum.” Alison Delahunty
“An engineering qualification will present you with opportunities in areas that you may never have considered. Talk to as many qualified engineers as you can across different disciplines to get a feel for what we do. Don’t get hung up thinking about how the economy may be performing by the time you qualify – these are all just cycles that no one can really predict. So if you’re keen on engineering, go for it.” Kieran Garvey
Engineers Week celebrates the world of engineering in Ireland. The week-long festival is an annual event coordinated by Engineers Ireland STEPS programme and funded under Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Programme Call. Engineers Week 2018 (24th February – 2nd March) aimed to inspire young people to explore engineering as a career and highlight the diverse opportunities available.
There is no doubt that budding engineers will have been inspired and enthused by the positive stories of these three RPS engineers.