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.
Xiaona Hou is a Product Engineer. She is responsible for supporting R&D work in the Diabetes Care business unit at MD Medical.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
My mother greatly influenced my career as she was a successful electronic engineer in China. I also had a great manager when I first started out working in R&D who always encouraged me to think outside the box and trusted me to work directly with customers and vendors. This really helped me to build up my confidence.
Describe a typical day?
I start my day with a good strong coffee! I work in the RCI department in BD Dun Laoghaire and most of my projects involve working with colleagues overseas. In the morning, I start with my project action items, this could vary from R&D support work to liaising with external vendors. Then the afternoon usually comprises of meetings with my overseas colleague to discuss the progress of our project.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
What are the main challenges?
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Yes, definitely. The flexible working hours in BD allow me to start my job early and finish early. This is really valuable to me as it allows me to spend more time in the evening with my 14-month-old child. In BD, we are always encouraged to continue learning new skills which is very important for the R&D medical device industry.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
Any college internship or work experience in the medical device, biotech or pharmaceutical industry would be extremely valuable, as this will demonstrate to them what the real work environment is like and what area they may be interested in working in after graduating. It will also give them the opportunity to network with different people within the industry.