Physical and Mathematical Sciences is a broad sector, with many potential career paths for those with qualifications and suitable skillsets, including medical work, engineering, teaching, finance and technology.
The engineering sector itself is made up of a wide range of companies providing a diverse range of products and services.
The most usual route is through taking a degree at a third level college, often following this with a post graduate qualification.
Students can study mechanical engineering at Level 6, 7 or 8 in colleges across Ireland or they can study a general engineering degree then specialise in mechanical engineering in the final year.
Physicists want to understand how the world works, in every detail and at the deepest level. This includes everything from elementary particles, to nuclei, atoms, living cells, solids, liquids, gases, living organisms, the brain, supercomputers, the atmosphere, galaxies and the universe itself.
There is a whole host of career opportunities for mechanical engineering graduates.
A wide range of opportunities exist in both electrical and electronic engineering.
Smart Futures is a government-industry programme providing science, technology, engineering andmaths (STEM) careers information to second-level students, parents, teachers and careers guidance counsellors in Ireland.
Kelvin E Lau How is a PHD Student in RCSI. His current study involves the study of RNA editing in the brain.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
Describe a typical day?
My day varies from day-to-day. It depends what kind of experiment that I am running on that day itself. Normally I will start doing experiments in the morning, so that I have plenty of time to do write ups or read some journal papers in the afternoon. My experiments involve analysing mouse brain tissue, RNA samples and sometimes we do studies on paediatric brain samples too! Before heading back home, I will plan the experiment for the following day and prepare the necessary chemicals required for that experiment. This is so that my following day will be more organized and I don’t have to worry about rushing and preparing the chemicals in the next morning.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
My current study involves the study of RNA editing in the brain; knowledge in molecular biology and neuroscience are required. In this study, I will need to know how to sequence the RNA and at the same time, know how to identify differentially edited RNA in the brain. Therefore, bioinformatics skills are essential
What are the main challenges?
Writing. The idea of making it scientific, concise and understandable at the same time are relatively challenging for me (especially coming from a person whose country is not a native English-speaking country). That’s why I have to read more journals than others so that I can grasp a solid and coherent way to write my paper
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
I’d say both my Bachelor and Master’s Degree have prepared me with the essential knowledge to help decipher questions and challenges in my everyday job. My previous working experiences in the hospital shaped me to be more of an organized person and equipped me with laboratory and soft skills that are critically important for the job.
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Yes, definitely! Contrary to popular belief, I have great work-life balance at RCSI, mainly because their PhD structural programme allows students to be more independent and flexible with their time. They do organize various exciting activities that you can attend while waiting for your experiment to finish. All in all, good time management is important to keep a balanced lifestyle no matter what job/ career you have in life
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
Having some work experience in a laboratorial setting would be preferable. Disregard whether they are academia or industrial, working in the lab will definitely sharpen your lab skills and organization skills. If your mind is set to pursue a PhD, make use of the internship opportunity during your Bachelor degree (undergraduate) to work in a related-discipline laboratory. This is also your vital chance to get a suitable referee for your PhD application!