Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Lynsey Gargan from STEPS to give some advice for people considering this job:

Lynsey Gargan

Manufacturing Engineer

STEPS

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Lynsey Gargan
With regard to education I say don't worry if you think you have the wrong subjects in school. I certainly didn't have the subjects you would typically expect.

There are a number of courses that cater to different backgrounds. The most important thing is to do your research. Go to open days, talk to the colleges and generally just find out what exactly you would be getting in to.

Don't just take for granted you know what a certain course or career is all about. Think about what you like to do, and not just necessarily in school, if you find yourself being curious about how things work or how thing are made, it's a good indication that you could like something like engineering.

One of the best things about engineering is that it really can be your passport to the world. There are great travel opportunities within the industry and chances to be involved in the next big thing.

Practically every man-made product around you came from a manufacturing plant, it's a huge industry with a lot of different avenues to take. Innovation is a really big part of what engineers do. The desire to be creative and improve production and processes is an important attribute for a manufacturing engineer.
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Investigative
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with clever technology. They will often follow the latest developments in their chosen field, and prefer mentally stimulating environments.
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Kevin Roche - Research Engineer

What do you do?

I work in the research and development lab looking for new coatings we could create. Because we have a unique process for applying coatings, this involves testing different materials to find out whether they will work with the process. Sometimes customers ask for a specific coating, and sometimes I test coatings that I think would be useful. When a new coating is successful, I put together publications to inform potential customers.

Describe a typical day?

Daily activities are not very routine. Different coatings require completely different tests so there is a lot of variety. Since I work at every stage of research and development there is even more variety. Some common jobs are preparing powders and equipment for coating, blasting new coatings, photography, microscopy and other analysis techniques, reading research papers and designing publications.

What are the things you like best about the job?

I never get bored because there is always a new challenge and we are constantly doing things that haven’t been done before. There is always something to think about.

What are the main challenges?

It can take a lot of attempts before something actually works.

Who or what has most influenced your career direction?

Probably my parents, my dad is also an engineer.

Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?

My job is relatively flexible because it is about achieving certain goals rather than being at a desk or in an office at certain times. This is great for allowing a good lifestyle outside of work. In a small research company there is no telling what opportunities might arise in future.

What subjects did you take in school and did they influence your career path?

Art, Chemistry, Physics, and French. Every one of these has been useful, but especially chemistry. Honours maths was also important. What is your education to date? I did my Leaving Cert in 2006, then completed a degree in Mechanical Engineering degree at UCD in 2010 and have just finished my PhD in Materials Engineering at UCD.

What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?

Of course the PhD was especially important as it was 3 years of pure research, which set me up perfectly for my job now. I chose a lot of materials-based modules during my degree, which helped move me in this direction.

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?

Be self-motivated, curious, and creative. Do be afraid to try things even if they sound ridiculous.

What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?

Any kind of lab experience would be ideal but any work with machines would also be very good.

Article by: Smart Futures