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 Mark Spain from An Garda Sí­ochána to give some advice for people considering this job:

Mark Spain

Garda Trainee

An Garda Sí­ochána

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Mark Spain
If you are unsure I would recommend coming to an open day in the college and if possible also doing the Garda Reserve. It gives the best insight imaginable into the work of Gardaí.

Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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Mechanical Engineering & Manufacturing

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Mechanical Engineering & Manufacturing

Engineering is a broad, diverse field of study that encompasses various engineering disciplines.

Mechanical engineering uses problem-solving skills to design machines and technologies to improve our world.
Mechanical engineers are masters of problem-solving, invention and creative design. They turn ideas into reality, using their knowledge of materials, physics, energy and technology. They create all sorts of machines and devices, from jet engines to robots, medical devices to mobile phones.

Mechanical engineers face the challenge of keeping up with rapid advances in technology. These engineers often work at the leading edge of innovation, on projects such as driverless cars, alternative energy sources, the development of new materials and devices such as augmented reality glasses.

There are numerous changes in the 21st century which are impacting on the overall environment for mechanical engineering and manufacturing and driving big changes within this sector, making it an exciting career area.

 Source: IBEC 2016

Useful Career Sheets from STEPS to Engineering [pdf files]
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Mechanical Engineering header image

Mechanical Engineering involves the design, manufacture and operation of machines of all types and sizes that involve motion or have moving parts.

The mechanical engineering sector includes companies working with metal and plastic processing, as well as machine manufacture. This encompasses agricultural machinery, precision engineering, tool-making, metal fabrication and processing.

The range of work for the mechanical engineer means he or she could be working on anything from the design and manufacture of Formula 1 racing cars, high performance engines, and precision machine tools to working on major power generation plants and production equipment used in the chemical, electronics and food processing industries. Mechanical engineers are also one of the main developers in the new, emerging fields of nanotechnology and biotechnology.

Entry level occupations in this area include the machine users and operators (Operatives). Then there are those who service, install and repair the machinery, for example the Fitters, Mechanics and other Craftspeople. 

Engineering technicians are employed to test, install and operate more complex machines. They may also work alongside Engineering Professionals who would have the overall responsibility for the operation and functioning of the equipment. Senior professional positions would include responsibility for the design and production of new machinery, or the installation of large scale complex projects that may take years to build.

Third level college courses in mechanical engineering provide a very broad-based technical education. The career is an excellent foundation for graduates who, in time, want to move into more management-oriented positions such as engineering manager, project manager and general manager. Check out the course lists on this page.

Useful Career Sheets from STEPS to Engineering [pdf files]
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Manufacturing header image

The manufacturing sector employs around 159,000 people across 4,000 enterprises throughout Ireland, making it the second largest employer. 82% of manufacturers are based outside the Dublin region and it is estimated that each direct manufacturing job supports at least one other job in the wider economy. 

Manufacturing additionally straddles Biopharma and Pharmacem, Medical Devices, Food and Drinks and ICT Hardware.

Manufacturing and industrial engineers are engaged in the complex process of making things on a large scale. Sometimes known as systems engineers, they are masters of problem-solving. They look at the entire process involved in manufacturing and distributing a product – from the raw materials used, to budgeting, to safety, to supply chain management – and try to make the process more efficient, faster, less wasteful, and less costly.

Manufacturing and industrial engineers need to be able to work well with many different groups of people, including engineers from other disciplines. They are involved in the range of design and development processes that result in products. Whether its clothing, cell phones, computers, cars, DVDs, food and drink, athletic gear, medicine or cosmetics - virtually everything we use on a daily basis has passed through the manufacturing process.

Manufacturing engineers work to improve quality and productivity across the manufacturing process. These and many other products have become part of everyday life because advanced manufacturing techniques make them reliable, affordable and available.

There is a widespread belief that manufacturing involves low-skilled work in unpleasant and even dirty surroundings. The reality is that the skills and competencies needed within manufacturing are changing. This is due to factors such as scientific and technological advances, automation, changes in regulation, new developments in computer technology, and the drive for continuous improvements in the way things work.

What has made manufacturing processes so versatile is technology. Advanced manufacturing applies the latest developments in mechanics, electronics, computers, and automation to improve production.

In the past 10 years, the use of computer systems and software to monitor and control processes in large and small plants around Ireland, has led to increased product quality and productivity. 

Developments in communications technology have increased the ability of Manufacturing engineers and plant managers to check on operations, even if it's halfway around the world. Systems can be set up to transmit data on how much material is being used, how machines are running and if problems are occurring.  The ultimate example of what can be achieved is "lights-out manufacturing," which allows a highly automated plant to be run by computers and robots, with minimal involvement by skilled human operators.

Graduates in Manufacturing Engineering can work in areas such as:

  • The industrial manufacturing sector including aerospace and automotive engineering
  • Production - including food and beverages, computers, electronic components etc
  • Public services
  • Logistics
  • Management and design consultancy
Useful Career Sheets from STEPS to Engineering [pdf files]
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Mechatronic & Electromechanical header image

Mechatronics or Mechanical and Electronic Engineering is a combination of mechanical engineering, electronic engineering and software engineering. 

Mechatronics combines mechanical engineering, electronic engineering and software engineering to design intelligent machines, such as robots and smart buildings.

Mechatronics is a new approach to precision engineering, electronic control and information systems, in order to make ‘intelligent’ machine systems ranging from iPods, DVD and CD players, robots and digital cameras, to fully automated factories and manufacturing processes, and smart buildings. 

Mechatronic engineers are also involved in the new field of biomechatronics, concerned with the development of systems for human augmentation and rehabilitation. Examples include intelligent artificial legs that mimic the person’s good leg and exoskeleton suits that enhance the wearer’s strength and stamina.

Mechatronics and Mechatronic engineering courses are available at several of the IoTs around the country. Check out the course list on this page.
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Aeronautical Engineering header image

Aeronautical Engineering is the branch of engineering behind the design, construction and science of aircraft and spacecraft. Aeronautical engineers bring ideas to reality. They are responsible for the creation of newer, safer and more energy-efficient, economical methods for travel including airplanes, helicopters, missiles, satellites and spacecraft. 

Professionals in this field may specialise in Structural designFlight mechanics and control systems, Aerodynamics, Instrumentation and communication or Manufacturing and maintenance.

Aeronautical engineers, technologists and technicians can specialise in a particular area or pursue a career in such areas as:

  • The automotive industry
  • Space exploration centres
  • Commercial aviation
  • The defence forces
  • Research centres

This profession has global appeal and a qualification in aeronautical engineering is a genuine passport to an exciting career almost anywhere in the world. Check out the course list on this page.

Useful Career Sheets from STEPS to Engineering [pdf files]
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Clinical Engineering Dept., Naas General Hospital, Co. Kildare
(045) 843 116
Wilton Place, Dublin, 2.
(01) 603 4000
1 Boeing Avenue, Airport Business Park, Waterford.
(01) 525 2527
Ground Floor, Block 4B-5, Blanchardstown Corporate Park, Dublin, 15.
(01) 822 7125
International Aviation Services Centre Terminal Building Shannon Airport, Co Clare.
(061) – 712236
(01) 607 3042
Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

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