Studying UCD Structural Engineering with Architecture - Caitlin McDonnell

My name is Caitlin McDonnell and I have recently completed my fifth and final year of Structural Engineering with Architecture in UCD. Looking back over the past 5 years, it’s difficult to chose one thing that I enjoyed most throughout my studies. It feels like no time at all has passed since I was poring over college prospectuses and attending countless open days, before finally deciding upon Engineering at UCD. From what I had seen and heard, I had high expectations of the course, and now looking back I can confidently say these expectations were surpassed. Something that has always struck me about Engineering at UCD is the idea of ‘broader education’. As an engineering student you are exposed to a wide range of subjects across your chosen area. However, what really sets the course apart is that the College of Engineering and Architecture recognizes the importance of developing areas such as leadership, team work, innovation, economics and communication, ensuring that students are well rounded and acquire skills which make them attractive to employers within the field of engineering and also in a range of other fields.

A particular highlight of my time at UCD was the chance to undertake an eight?month internship as part of my Masters program. The College of Engineering and Architecture has well established links with some of the leading companies across all disciplines both in Ireland and further afield. You are guided through the entire application process which makes the whole experience a lot less daunting. I had the opportunity to work with ARUP, a multidisciplinary engineering company based in Dublin. The experience was really positive, giving me an understanding of real world projects and reinforcing what I had learned in college. Undertaking an internship for 8 months means that you really get a proper feel for a company and get exposure to a wide range of work. The company in turn get to know you as an individual, which is invaluable when going forward and applying for graduate programs. While UCD allows students to develop in an academic and professional sense, it also has much more to offer. There is a sports club or society to cater to every interest. This summer, I decided to take part in UCD Volunteer Overseas, and spent 4 weeks in Southern Uganda as part of a team of 10 students, working in a hospital. The experience was massively rewarding and I got to meet and work with a fantastic group of people from a range of different courses. The engineering academic staff are highly supportive of extra curricular activities, which made it possible for me to balance training and fundraising with my final year workload.

Going forward, I am sad to be leaving UCD. That said, there are exciting times ahead. The class of 2016 will be celebrating our graduation at the beginning of September, and I will be returning to work in ARUP shortly after. Although I am a bit nervous to leave the student life behind and enter the working world, I am confident in the knowledge that my time in UCD has prepared me well for the challenges I might face. To anyone considering Engineering at UCD, I cannot recommend it enough, and I am very jealous, you have a very exciting time ahead of you!