Six finalists are in the running for the Chartered Engineer of the Year Award at the forthcoming Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards 2018, held in association with ESB and sponsored by Arup
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Six finalists are in the running for the prestigious Chartered Engineer of the Year Award title at the forthcoming Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards 2018, held in association with ESB.

Sponsored by Arup, the Chartered Engineer of the Year Award is selected from the large number of engineers who achieve their chartered title in a given 12-month period.

The chartered engineer title is granted by Engineers Ireland to professional engineers who, through a rigorous review process, have shown their ability to apply their professional competencies in the workplace.

Speaking in advance of the Excellence Awards ceremony, Donal McDaid, infrastructure businesses and services group leader at Arup said: “Arup helps to shape a better world and we are proud to sponsor an award category that contributes to the engineering profession and society.

“This category truly reflects our commitment to the continuing development of professional expertise and ethical practice and we look forward to announcing the winner of this prestigious category on November 9.”

The shortlist is as follows:

Dr Julie Clarke BSc, ME, PhD, CEng MIEI


Having completed her master’s in structural engineering at University College Dublin in 2011, Dr Clarke developed a keen interest in research activities and chose to pursue a PhD. Her research, funded by the Irish Research Council, developed more reliable risk assessment processes to prevent settlement-induced building damage due to tunnelling in soft ground conditions.

In 2017, she joined Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions (GDG) as head of their R&D sector, where she manages several research initiatives in the topics of transport infrastructure safety, geothermal energy and geohazard assessment for renewable energy developments. Dr Clarke is also pursuing the commercialisation of an innovative geotechnical asset management tool that supports proactive maintenance planning.

Project: INFRARISKNovel indicators for identifying critical INFRAstructure at RISK from natural hazards
Natural hazards can have detrimental impacts on transport networks, causing physical damage and resulting in economic losses due to transport disruption.

The INFRARISK project was a three-year research project funded by the European Commission, which aimed to develop reliable stress tests for critical land-based transport infrastructure due to extreme natural hazard events. The project, valued at €2.8 million, involved 11 partners from seven European countries.

Dr Clarke acted as project manager and was responsible for the development of an innovative methodology that can be used to provide a reliable risk quantification of the impacts of natural hazard on transport networks. She implemented this methodology for a road network in Italy and a rail network in Croatia. The risk was quantified in terms of physical damage, as well as travel time increases and the associated economic losses.

Hugh Cunningham, Chartered Engineer


Cunningham is currently the head of high voltage substation design standards at ESB International where he manages specialist substation designers that develop innovative solutions for use on the Irish grid.

A native of Killybegs, he graduated from DIT Kevin Street in 1999 with an honours degree in electrical engineering. He then joined ESB International as a substation design engineer and has successfully completed many substation projects in Ireland and overseas. In 2003 he completed a postgraduate diploma in project management at Trinity College and in 2006, a diploma in leadership and management from University of Limerick.

Cunningham is very active in the global CIGRÉ substation community and has been the Irish representative on a number of international working groups, completing papers and delivering tutorials on substation design and asset management.

Project: Harnessing Digital Technology and Innovative Design Standardisation in ESB
This project aimed to maximise the standardisation of substation design to allow ESB Networks deliver a significant capital works programme from 2011 to 2015. As the design consultant, ESB International played a key role in the detailed engineering and design standardisation needed to efficiently deliver these projects.

To ensure the individual substation project delivery was as efficient as possible ESB International, in partnership with ESB Networks, identified areas of potential standardisation relative to the work programme. Items such as modular distribution substations and 220 kV transmission substations were prioritised. This project took advantage of innovative IT systems and tools to leverage digital design technology for efficient, high quality engineering design.

This drove financial improvements across the projects, where for example, savings of 10 per cent of electrical engineering design costs were achieved. The increased standardisation across the Irish Network provides ongoing benefits in safety, operation and maintenance.

Katie Higgins, Chartered Engineer


Higgins graduated with a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Toronto, Canada. In second year, she completed in a study abroad program, completing a term at the University of Queensland. It was in Australia that she discovered and developed an interest in the field of water treatment.

Following graduation, Higgins participated in a water engineering internship in Peru, before joining Stantec Consulting as an engineer in training working on municipal water projects around southern Ontario. She then relocated to the UK, where she worked for Severn Trent Water in a number of different roles from research and development to design and build projects at water treatment plants.

She relocated to Ireland in 2017 and now works in the Galway Water Team at RPS Consulting Engineers.

Project: A Risk Assessment Tool to Plan and Implement Drinking Water Safety Plan Upgrades for Major UK Water Utility
Drinking Water Safety Plans (DWSP) have been international best practice in municipal water treatment since the early 2000s and are used to identify risks from the water source that supplies a water treatment plant, to final delivery of treated water to a customer’s tap. A major water utility in the UK, determined that all future water treatment plant investment had to align fully to risks identified in the DWSP risk assessment process.

At the time of the project start, there was no structured methodology for assessing individual treatment process risks and to determine if risks were related to asset condition or deficiencies, an upstream issue or operational practice(s).  A tool was developed to create a standardised operational risk assessment that directly identified what asset upgrades had to be prioritised and allowed comparison between sites.

Aoife Murphy, Chartered Engineer


Murphy is a chartered engineer with more than 10 years’ experience in the design, assessment, repair and construction of building structures.

A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, she has gained experience both in Ireland, with PM Group, and New Zealand, where she spent more than six years carrying out assessments of earthquake-damaged residential buildings throughout Christchurch as well as designing and supervising repair works.

Having joined David Kelly Partnership in March 2018, she has worked on a number of conservation projects, including Swords Castle, Drumcullen Church ruins and Youghal Town Wall repairs.

Murphy has a particular interest in the conservation of historic structures and was previously awarded a nine-month scholarship with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

Project: Earthquake: The Silver Lining – an opportunity in a time of disaster
Project X is one of the largest residential projects in the world and was set up in response to an earthquake on 4 September 2010 in Canterbury, New Zealand.  Her role in the project began in November 2010, a short time before a subsequent major earthquake on February 22, 2011, occurred very close to the city causing catastrophic damage.

The project entailed a spend of NZ$2.4 billion, with repairs required to more than 150,000 houses, including full repairs, emergency repairs and chimney replacements.  Murphy’s role developed from that of a works manager, supervising and managing repairs to that of a senior engineer, managing teams of engineers and technicians in their assessment and reporting, contributing to the repair of thousands of houses.

Captain John Murphy, Chartered Engineer


John Murphy, from Portmagee, Co. Kerry, is an Engineer Officer with the Irish Defence Forces. Starting his career as a cadet in 2003, in 2005 he was commissioned as an infantry officer. John graduated with a first-class honours degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Limerick in 2008.

Following two years’ service as an Infantry Platoon Commander, he transferred to the Corps of Engineers. In both 2013 and 2017 John was deployed to South Lebanon as the engineer officer with the Irish Contingent of the United Nations peace keeping mission. John has worked as an instructor in the School of Military Engineering during which he provided training in key engineering skills including bridge construction, explosives, Engineer Specialist Search & Clearance (ESSC) and Chemical, Biological, Radiological & Nuclear (CBRN) defence.

Since 2015 John has worked as the designated engineer officer providing engineering support to one of Ireland’s specialist military units.

Project title: Engineering solutions to increase the operational capability of a specialist military unit.
To enhance the operational capabilities at home and overseas, John was appointed project lead and completed a number of innovative and unique engineering projects to improve infrastructural facilities, training locations, operational procedures and training syllabi. He was the sole project engineer responsible for designing, planning and executing Infrastructural projects including the development of a Rapid Deployment Area, construction of a new 25m No Danger Area Range and a 360-degree Live Fire Training Facility. In addition, John identified and oversaw improvements to logistical support centres and gym facilities. He also developed a training syllabus to qualify personnel in explosive assault demolitions.

Mahnaz Rashedi, Chartered Engineer


Rashedi received a BE degree in electrical engineering from Tehran Polytechnic, and an MSc degree in Control Engineering from Bahonar University in Iran. For more than 10 years she has worked as an electrical instrumentation and control engineer in a wide range of industrial plants, including iron processing plants, food and dairy factories, and pharmaceuticals. She has extensive experience in design and commissioning of SCADA and DCS of process plants with automation products of Siemens, Rockwell and ABB.

In 2016, Rashedi joined Finning Ireland, the world’s largest Caterpillar dealer, where she successfully designed and delivered power generation systems for three large data centre projects in Dublin. She is currently involved in a project to develop a novel visualisation tool for communication signals of Caterpillar’s control system.

Project: Control System Design for Milk Process Plant in Lakeland Dairies
Lakeland Dairies is one of the largest Irish milk processors and have recently expanded their process plant to increase milk concentrate solid content from 40 per cent to 52 per cent. The plant had 500+ I/O signals distributed in three areas.  Rashedi’s project involved designing a PLC and SCADA system to augment the business-as-usual control system of the dairy plant.

First, she clustered I/O signals of instruments, motors, actuators, etc. based on their location on site layout and then designed five remote I/O panels and three PLC panels with redundant network communication. Upon implementation of the plant control philosophy on the PLCs, Rashedi’s main challenge was to develop an optimal PLC programme for 14 distinct sequences of the plant, each having at least seven single or cascade PID loops.

She diagnosed the developed programme using a PLC simulator tool before commissioning and designing HMI graphics to animate the process, to log process data, for example, events and trends, and to facilitate remote process control by operators. Finally, she commissioned the project on site successfully and handed it over to the client under budget and ahead of schedule.

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Six finalists are in the running for the prestigious Chartered Engineer of the Year Award title at the forthcoming Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards 2018, held in association with ESB. Sponsored by Arup, the Chartered Engineer of the Year Award is selected from the large number of engineers who achieve their...