Women in Engineering
pROCESS eNGINEERING Lecturer
LIMERICK INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
I never knew what I wanted to do or be when I was in school, nothing really appealed to me until I went on a two day career camp in my local university. The camp was brilliant in that we got to experience sample classes and workshops in different disciplines.
When it was our turn to sample the engineering classes and workshops I remember thinking this won’t be for me, I am not going to enjoy this and it will just be a waste of my time. I still remember walking into the engineering workshop and feeling intimidated by all the equipment and the size of the room. Then we got to experience a few experiments, I started to realised that I was actually enjoying this. We used a software package to work out how much water we needed to use for a 15 minute shower and I was surprised I really enjoyed solving the problem. When we finished up I was converted, my whole perception of engineering had change. I knew from that moment I was going be an engineer but I still needed to figure out what type of engineer was I going to be.
When I went back to school to talk to our guidance councillor about engineering unfortunately she was not much help to me because it was an all-girls school and told me as I was a female I would be wasting my time. I decided to get advice from other sources!
The next issue I had to face was that I had moved down to pass maths and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do engineering because of the higher match requirement. The simple answer was to do engineering in an Institute of technology. I learned that the difference between doing an engineering course in an University is that it would be more book driven while Engineering in an Institute of technology would be more hands on and practical, which suited me perfectly. I get bored easy and lose concentration too often in a classroom environment so I need to be doing practical work that I can immerse myself in.
Then my journey in 3rd level began.
I went to Tralee IT to do Mechanical Engineering for two years and got my Certificate in Engineering. I really enjoyed the course but like all courses there were some subjects that I preferred more than others. I decided that I wanted to move into the manufacturing /process side of engineering. This is where interest moved away from the design (mechanical) aspect of engineering and veered towards, process, quality, training, job design, effective factory layouts and new product introduction. My next adventure brought me to Galway IT where I got my Ordinary Degree in Manufacturing Engineering, which I loved.
The great thing about going to an Institute of technology is that you can take a stepping stone approach to achieving your degree. For example, I studied for two years and got my certificate, then one more year and got my ordinary degree. At that stage I had two qualifications after three years in college. I decide then to go off for a year and travel and came back to UL and studied for my honours degree in Production Engineering which again I loved. I have to say that going to a University after studying in Institutes of Technology was such a culture shock to the system. Sitting in massive classes with at times hundreds of students, lecturers not knowing you personally and basically left to fend for yourself with little guidance was daunting but you adjust and succeed.
After gaining my honours degree in Production Engineering it opened so many doors and opportunities for me. My first job was working as a graduate Engineering in Stryker Instruments in Cork, where they made surgical blades. I got to carry our quality checks, audits, calibrate and test equipment, create and implement quality documents and procedures for technicians to follow.
My next work adventure brought me to Intel in Lexlip. Intel manufacture integrated circuits (the brain of a computer). Here I was a manufacturing supervisor, managing a team of 40 technicians and up to 50 machines. My role was very intense and initially mind blowing. I learned so much working in such a highly automated manufacturing environment and from managing people. My role involved product scheduling, achieving product output goals, manufacturing and equipment set-up, quality prevention and control, people management, team development and training and I even was trained by the Dublin fire brigade and became an emergency response team leader for the factory.
The job was very challenging but I enjoyed it. I decide I wanted to develop further in engineering and went back to university and completed my Masters in Computer Integrated Engineering, it’s a fancy title for Engineering meets software/ programming.
This led me to the best job in the world which was teaching in LIT. At the time I didn’t realise how much I would enjoy working in Education. I am now in my 14th year of teaching it’s a constant challenge to keep up with the latest technology and advancements in manufacturing because it evolves so quickly, but it’s necessary to prepare our students for the real world. It is also challenging to keep students attention and get them engaged in what you’re teaching but it keeps me on my toes finding new ways to do so and to make learning enjoyable. It is such a privilege to teach and to see young minds thinking, sharing and learning. I have never looked back since my mind was opened to engineering, it opens so many opportunities and adventures and for sure as an Engineer you will never get bored.