Friends as UCD chemical engineering students in the late 1960s, Pat Kenny and Eddie O'Connor went on to make their mark on the country in very different ways.
After graduating from UCD in 1969, Pat Kenny completed an M.Sc. in engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, returning then to Ireland to lecture at Bolton Street College of Technology. While lecturing, he took the first steps into what would be a lengthy and influential career in broadcasting on RTE, spanning science and technology, business, news and current affairs as well as music, young people's programming and entertainment.
In the 1980s he presented a number of radio programmes before securing the show Today with Pat Kenny as a permanent feature. His early television career focused mainly on current affairs with Today Tonight, but having hosted Saturday Live and Kenny Live for RTE television, as well as presenting the Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin, he was the obvious successor to Gay Byrne as host of the Late Late Show. He hosted that show for ten years before returning to current affairs with the audience-based TV programme Frontline in 2009. He continues to play a central role in media debate during Irish general elections and, as well as interviewing politicians on radio, hosted the 5-way Frontline Leaders Debate in February 2011. Pat Kenny has won a number of broadcasting awards, and is a Fellow of Engineers Ireland.
With a BE in chemical engineering (1970) and a Masters in Industrial Engineering (1976), both from UCD, Eddie O'Connor was to pursue a successful career in energy that spans over four decades. After completing his bachelors degree he joined ESB, leaving in 1987 to become chief executive officer at Bord na Móna. In 1997 he founded Airtricity, the Irish wind farm development company, developing a business success story around renewable energy. Within a decade, O'Connor had sold Airtricity North America to E.ON for approximately $1.4 bn and the remainder of the company to Scottish and Southern Energy.
Not ready to retire from the sector, he went on to set up Mainstream Renewable Power, whose core business is to develop, build and operate renewable energy plants in collaboration with strategic partners in Europe, South America, the US, Canada and South Africa. Eddie O'Connor received an honorary doctorate of science from UCD in 2008 and was presented with the Foundation Day Medal for outstanding alumni in 2010.