Two project engineers and an associate at RPS Group tell the Engineers Journal why creativity, curiosity and wanting to make the world a better place are at the heart of wanting to work in the profession
Civil

Two project engineers and an associate at RPS Group tell the Engineers Journal why creativity, curiosity and wanting to make the world a better place are at the heart of wanting to work in the profession. They tell their stories below:

Louise Campion, project engineer, RPS


Louise Campion

I graduated with a BSc (hons) and ME in structural engineering with architecture from UCD, in 2010 and 2012 respectively, and recently completed a post-graduate certificate in environmental sustainability.

Currently, my primary focus is on my role as technical co-ordinator of the European Green Capital Award, an initiative of the European Commission, for which RPS is the secretariat.

Other projects which I have worked on include renewable district heating systems, the strategic environmental assessment of the National Climate Change Mitigation Plan, a variety of contaminated land remediation strategies and environmental constraints studies for road development schemes.

At what age (or stage of your life) did you start to think about becoming an engineer?
Creativity and curiosity are at the core of how I perceive the world around me so, subconsciously, I think I have always been an engineer at heart.

However, it was in secondary school that I took the first formal steps towards engineering. While the subject itself was not offered at the secondary school I attended, I chose science and art for my Leaving Certificate subjects, believing that engineering is a combination of these two schools of thought (and I wasn’t wrong!)

What were the major influencers of this decision?
At first, it was a love for creativity, design and problem solving. Later on, the prospect of pursuing a career in engineering simply seemed like a smart idea; it offers a stable platform for many careers and has a global reputation for excellence.

Moreover, the skills you learn studying and practising engineering are transferable, and operating within a solutions-driven sector teaches you to be a critical, innovative and analytical thinker. These are highly desirable attributes in many career paths.

Ultimately, I believe that engineers are at the heart of communities and serve to improve them – I want to be a part of that and contribute to the betterment of society and the environment.

How has the career differed from what you expected, particularly initially?
The variety of work, diverse stakeholder network and scale of impact are aspects of my career which took me by (pleasant) surprise. Engineering projects have the ability to impact positively at local level but can contribute to a regional, national or international strategy by offering knowledge transfer and influencing best practice.

Modern engineering methods require openness towards innovation and encourage holistic approaches. Increasingly, we procure and design in a collaborative digital environment that includes BIM, GIS and data management.

Engineering has diverse applications and the success of projects relies on multifaceted teams and collaborative input. As a professional in this field, I am not just an engineer I am a planner, a designer, a scientist, a social entrepreneur and an advocate for environmental sustainability.

What for you are the most interesting aspects of engineering?
Collaborative working at the forefront of sustainable design in a fast-paced environment is definitely what makes my career most interesting.

Engineering is a continually evolving sector; technology and governance move quickly and things are never stale in this profession – I rarely do the same thing day in, day out. The rate of change makes for a challenging and exciting career.

What do you expect to be the most exciting aspect of engineering over the next five years?
I anticipate that the opportunity to influence the move towards a smarter, more sustainable and resilient future within the context of modern challenges will be the most exciting aspect of my career over the next five years.

I see these challenges to include mitigating and adapting to climate change, ensuring energy security from indigenous resources, and the transition to a technology-driven economy which decouples GHG emissions from economic growth.

What would you say to someone right now if they asked you should they study engineering?
Don’t hesitate. Whether you love to crunch numbers or are more interested in contributing from a strategic level, engineering is so diverse, offering excellent opportunities for a career where you feel like you are making a genuine difference. If you are curious about the world around you and how you can shape its future, then engineering is for you.

Alison Delahunty, project engineer, RPS


Alison Delahunty

I studied civil & environmental engineering (Level 8) at University College Cork (UCC) from 2008-2012. My engineering career commenced in Malachy Walsh and Partners (MWP), primarily as a structural engineer, from 2012-2015.

My interest in geotechnics was piqued while working in MWP and I enrolled in a master’s of soil mechanics (Level 9) at the Imperial College of London in 2014. I enrolled on a part-time basis and completed the course in 2016. Prior to completing it, I joined RPS where I have been a member of the geotechnics team since 2015.

Here I have had the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects. I am currently working on the conceptual model for a contaminated land site, the earthworks design for a local access road and the geotechnical design report for a cable stay bridge.

At what age did you start to think about becoming an engineer?
I was unaware of engineering until the age of 17. I went to an all-girls school where the CAO focus was on nursing and teaching. I knew neither of these were a good fit for me so I sought advice from an external career guidance counsellor (CGC). After a brief chat about my interests and subject performances, the CGC immediately suggested engineering and the rest is history.

What were the major influencers of this decision?
In school I enjoyed maths, physics and geography and, outside of school, I admired architecture and impressive structures such as dams and bridges. I researched the various avenues in engineering and decided that the civil & environmental course in UCC was right for me.

I filled out my CAO in 2008 at the start of the economic downturn. Choosing engineering was a risky decision at the time due to the decimation of the construction industry in Ireland. However, I was certain it was a solid career choice and I was comforted by the fact that a qualification in engineering travels well and is a pathway into many other disciplines.

How has the career differed from what you expected, particularly initially?
I learnt that the title of your engineering degree does not limit you to that one aspect of engineering. The basics of problem solving stand to you across many fields within the industry.

For example, having initially qualified as a civil and environmental engineer in 2012, I have since been involved in utilities design, flood risk assessments, temporary works design, structural design, geotechnical design and health and safety.

What for you are the most interesting aspects of engineering?
I love a challenge and that is something that engineering provides every day. You’re presented with a problem and you use your knowledge and common sense to produce a solution that is safe, functional and aesthetic.

What do you expect to be the most exciting aspect of engineering over the next five years?
I am looking forward to seeing how geotechnical engineering develops in Ireland over the coming years. The engineering industry is realising its importance, particularly the benefits of a targeted ground investigation to inform the design process.

I also look forward to learning more about the advantages that the collaborative design process Building Information Modelling (BIM) offers us on projects.

What would you say to someone right now if they asked you should they study engineering?
From my own experiences, I would say that you need a strong work ethic and an aptitude for maths to progress through a course in engineering. The courses are intense but certainly achievable for anybody who meets the course entry requirements.

I would also say that engineering is a strong career choice. Engineering, in all its forms, helps the world to function, from transport to energy to water and the digital economy. It offers a wealth of opportunities.

Also, it is a well-respected degree and will stand to you if you decide to pursue a career outside of the engineering spectrum.

Kieran Garvey, associate, RPS


Kieran Garvey

When it came to picking my subjects for the Leaving Certificate cycle, long before the CAO crunch time, I knew I enjoyed physics, chemistry and maths. I also enjoyed technical drawing, so to me, a career in engineering seemed to pull aspects of all these together.

What were the major influencers of this decision?
I finished secondary school in the late 1990s. At that time the Irish economy was starting to ramp up and I was beginning to see more infrastructure development around Ennis, where I grew up.

Watching these projects progress and seeing how they changed the built environment around the town really was a major influence on my decision to choose civil engineering. I was also fortunate to have some extended family working in engineering who were always a good sounding board.

How has the career differed from what you expected, particularly initially?
In the first years of my career I worked almost exclusively in landfill and waste management infrastructure design with RPS. This was certainly not an area I would have envisaged for myself when I started or even finished studying.

I really enjoyed it, however. So much of the early learning was ‘on the job’, which was hugely refreshing. Like most projects in civil engineering, it relied on the integration of various disciplines: geotechnical, drainage, roads, environmental management and so on – affording me good exposure to these fields.

What for you are the most interesting aspects of engineering?
As a civil engineer within a multidisciplinary consultancy like RPS, I work almost daily with a wide variety of specialists from other fields – environmental scientists, ecologists, hydrogeologists, noise specialists – delivering projects for our clients that will leave a positive mark on the built environment.

Playing a key role in this large interaction of skills, from concept stage through to construction is perhaps the most interesting aspect.

I also worked in Australia for a number of years where project drivers and climate were quite different to here, so having to adapt your skills to suit the environment makes things both interesting and challenging.

What do you expect to be the most exciting aspect of engineering over the next five years?
We are now seeing more of our projects being realised through the intelligent 3D model-based process of BIM.

Over the next five years, these advancements in technology will offer engineers of all levels the opportunity to develop new skillsets in order to more efficiently plan, design, visualise and construct our projects in a way that we have not done before, which is an exciting prospect.

What would you say to someone right now if they asked you should they study engineering?
An engineering qualification will present you with opportunities in areas that you may never have considered. Talk to as many qualified engineers as you can across different disciplines to get a feel for what we do.

Don’t get hung up thinking about how the economy may be performing by the time you qualify – these are all just cycles that no one can really predict. So if you’re keen on engineering, go for it.

http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/eng7-1024x683.jpghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/eng7-300x300.jpgDavid O'RiordanCivilMissedBIM,RPS Group,UCC
Two project engineers and an associate at RPS Group tell the Engineers Journal why creativity, curiosity and wanting to make the world a better place are at the heart of wanting to work in the profession. They tell their stories below: Louise Campion, project engineer, RPS I graduated with a BSc...