Studying with UCD Energy Systems Engineering - Harriet Walsh

My name is Harriet Walsh and I am a recent graduate of engineering from UCD. Like many, I had no idea what type of career I wanted after finishing school, but I had always enjoyed Maths and Science and knew I wanted to continue studying something that had a similar focus on solving problems.

Thankfully in my sixth year I attended the UCD open day where I learned that studying engineering is just that – solving real world problems. What is great about engineering is that it is so broad – I have friends from my intake year who are making cars with Jaguar Land Rover, designing and building highways in Australia and even carrying out research in Silicon Valley – to think of just a few.

In your first year you will get a flavour for all the different streams in Engineering – CivilElectricalBiomedicalMechanicalChemical etc. before you decide on an area to specialise in. This concerned me at the time because after my first year I still wasn’t sure exactly what stream I liked best. There was no reason to worry though as many of the different streams are related and you can end up having a varied career even after specialising in a particular field in college.

If you take my experience for example. I ended up specialising in Energy Systems engineering, and went on to do an ME in the same area. I am only two years finished from UCD (hard to believe!), yet this degree has given me experience in many different industries, carrying out many different roles.

Firstly I spent 8 months doing a professional work placement (an unbelievable opportunity offered to UCD engineering undergraduates if doing the 3+2 BSc/ME option) in Glen Dimplex R&D centre in Co. Louth, where I worked with the product development team, helping the team develop a new range of energy efficient electric heaters with ‘smart’ functionality. My main role within this team was developing the heaters user interface, making sure it was user friendly and looked good. I also carried out a lot of laboratory testing of the new heating range making sure it complied with the relevant safety standards.

After completing my Masters in 2014 I spent that summer doing an internship with Atlas Copco – a global manufacturing firm that supplies air compressors to Irelands biggest manufacutring industries – Pharmaceutical, Food & Agri, Medical Devices, etc. With Atlas Copco I gained more experience in the operational/logisitics side of the business and even worked a little bit on marketing of their new range of energy efficient oil-free compressors. I left Atlas Copco after the internship but as it turned out my best friend from Engineering in UCD then took on a role with the company as a sales engineer for their services department. She studied mechanical engineering at UCD and is now managing a number of sales engineers from the Atlas Copco UK headquarters.

After my internship with Atlas Copco I began a graduate role with EirGrid – the transmission system operator for Ireland. I worked with the transmission planning team, a team that is responsible for designing how customers such as large wind farms or pharmaceutical factories are to be connected to the electricity system. It turned out to be a really exciting time to be part of this team as Ireland began to experience an unprecedented demand for large data centres.

You may remember Mark Zuckerbergs Facebook status announcing the new €200 million data centre he is constructing in Co. Meath? It was my team and EirGrid there with Facebook from day one on this project discussing how we were going to supply this data centre all the power it needed to run its machines and keep Facebook from crashing – how very important to us all!!!

After two great years with EirGrid I have travelled across the pond and am now carrying out a similar planning role with UK Power Networks in London.

I couldn’t recommend studying engineering at UCD more – the facilities and support from lecturers was second to none and I have made friends for life there. I hope this blog has given you a personal insight to the vast and varied amount of opportunities available to you from studying engineering, even after specialising. You can really end up wherever you want to!