Engineers bring dreams to life
Engineering offers a chance to make a difference to people's lives, while enjoying a varied and exciting career. Engineers take ideas and turn them into reality, using science, technology and ingenuity. They are masters of problem-solving and creative design. Engineers are in demand worldwide because they are essential to the economic and civic development of every country.
Making a difference
An engineering qualification offers almost unlimited career diversity, but one thing every engineer has in common is their potential to impact on the real world. Whether you end up developing software for the games industry, solving environmental challenges or designing medical devices for healthcare patients, it's very clear how your work affects other people.
"Engineering gives you the ability to make a difference. That sounds really corny but you can actually put something in place that will really help people," says Katie O'Neill, a senior design engineer who works in the environmental sector. That feeling is echoed by Claire Lillis, a biomedical engineer who designs medical devices used by patients with respiratory problems. "I know that when I go into work in the morning that I am helping someone's life. People are using our products all over the world."
It's not just the essential, life-changing industries where engineers can make an impact. The entertainment, games and online media sectors are thriving areas in need of engineering graduates. "We write software that gets deployed in games and played by millions of people around the world every day. I love that we get to build things that are used," says Morgan Brickley, a software engineer who works for an Irish-based videogames company.
Engineers in demand
Engineers are in demand in many sectors right now, especially the software and IT industry, the medical devices sector and the pharmaceutical industry, and the energy and environmental sectors. Let's look at some numbers:
• There are some 5,400 technology companies in Ireland right now; the top 10 global tech firms have a presence here.
• The gaming sector employs 2,500 people in Ireland. That number is set to double by 2014.
• There are 250 medical technology companies in Ireland, employing 25,000 people. Some 80 percent of the global production of stents (medical devices for heart patients) takes place in Ireland.
• Ireland exported EUR49 billion worth of organic chemicals and pharmaceutical products in 2010.
• By 2020 Ireland plans to be one of the largest producers of wind energy in Europe.
Is engineering for me?
You'll find engineers in almost all industries, from aviation, agriculture and space to healthcare, manufacturing and software – and everywhere in between. (You can see the diversity of engineering in the list of disciplines in the sidebar).
While everyone is different, engineers generally share some traits in common:
- They love solving problems creatively.
- They are naturally curious about how things work.
- They enjoy making or designing things.
Competence in mathematics is also important for engineers, but students don't necessarily need Honours maths to study engineering. "Maths matters, but don't be turned off if you haven't done Honours," says Tara McGowan, a bioengineering student. "It's not as difficult as people say; you'll have tutors and lecturers to help you."
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- For more in-depth information about the different types of engineering jobs, visit Engineering Disciplines in the 16-18 section.
- Watch video interviews with all of the engineers quoted above at www.engineersireland.ie/charteredengineer
- Visit Subject Choices for information on which subjects are useful for engineering.