|Justine Forkin tells Smart Futures there are plenty of opportunities for engineering graduates.
How did you choose a third-level course?
I chose maths and science subjects for my A levels. I had a knack for maths in school. Everything around you comes from some sort of science and there’s all the practical ways engineering can be used. Choosing engineering seemed logical.
What did you most enjoy about chemical engineering in UCD?
The class was quite small so we became a close-knit group and everyone helped each other. It is a hard course, but you get a great sense of achievement and learn a lot. It covers a wide range of engineering and you’ve plenty of options afterwards.
Which jobs are open to graduates from your course?
In Ireland, most go into the pharmaceutical industry, but there’s also oil and gas, and the food industry. Most processes that involve making something needs a chemical engineer. They are in short supply so there are plenty of jobs.
What was your first job after college?
I went to design consultancy firm Jacobs. It does design work for clients who want to construct or refurbish say a chemical or pharmaceutical plant. I got to see how all sorts of engineering feeds into one project.
What does APC do?
It is a research and development company that specialises in working with companies, mainly in the pharmaceutical sector, that have a process that could be improved. We strip back the process, take basic engineering and scientific principles, and work to perhaps reduce costs, increase yield or reduce impurities.
What is a typical day?
I work mainly in the lab, running different experiments, trying different solutions and analysing them. Or I might be writing up a report or running models.
What’s challenging about the role?
I’m only here since June so there is a lot to learn. You have to see what’ll work or not work, but once you get on the right curve it’s really rewarding.
What was your awarding-winning research project in UCD?
I had to deposit a coating just one or two atoms thick on a metal. I built the rig, as well as getting the electronics right, and loaded the program and worked with the chemicals involved. The project might be useful for splitting water into hydrogen and water – hydrogen is a clean fuel.
What advice would you give to someone looking at your career path?
Don’t worry about the end point too much and do what you enjoy. There are so many different avenues and job opportunities open to engineering graduates.