I was a shop assistant all through secondary school, have worked in a restaurant, as a camp leader on summer schemes and as a trainee Civil Engineer in Roads Service NI during my university summer holidays. I am also a tinwhistle teacher in the evenings.
Queen’s University Belfast
I’m a Civil Engineer and I am researching new ways to build big structures using wood grown in Ireland instead of concrete or steel
I have graduated from University but instead of going to work in industry (e.g. for a company who design buildings or who manage the building of new structures/roads etc) I decided to do some further study and started a research degree.
My area of research covers wood grown in Ireland and ways in which we can make it more useful – at the minute very few buildings are made from wood, most are concrete and/or steel which is not very environmentally friendly 🙁
What I do is I think of a new way to reinforce (make stronger) the wood, do some calculations to see if my idea works in theory and then I make up some samples and break them in the lab to back up the calculations.
A large wooden beam that I broke to test the strength of this type of wood Another test that I do to measure how strong a connection is
My Typical Day
No two days are the same! I do some work in the laboratory, office, library. I go to meetings and teach some tutorial classes.
My day usually starts with checking emails and my diary to see what I have on for the day. Depending on what deadlines I need to meet I could be:
doing some lab work – either preparing samples for testing, testing samples or discussing with technicians ways to carry out tests;
writing reports using the results from previous lab tests;
planning future work using calculations and computer programmes;
preparing for or teaching tutorial classes;
or I could be away at another university or school giving a presentation about my work and finding out what others are doing in my research area.
What I'd do with the money
I would donate the money to our University’s branch of Engineers Without Borders to help them carry out humanitarian engineering work
Engineers Without Borders (EWB) are a student led organisation committed to raising awareness of humanitarian engineering issues e.g. providing safe and clean wells in rural communities in Africa,
They also run outreach activities with schools and young people to raise awareness of engineering in international development and to inspire the next generation of development professionals.
Check out this link for more info…
One of the activities EWB do on outreach to schools Me promoting EWB-Belfast at last year’s Freshers’ Fair at QUB
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Easy-going, optimistic, friendly
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
Travelled to different countries to give presentations on my work
What or who inspired you to become an engineer?
I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I went to several different jobs for work experience and found that Engineering was the one for me
What did you want to be after you left school?
I hadn’t a clue! Some of the jobs I wanted to do included PE teacher/ Beauty therapist/ Pathologist
Were you ever in trouble at school?
A couple of times for minor things
If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?
Rich (haha – joke!)
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Travelled the east coast of Australia with a group of friends
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. A new car; 2. Good weather in Ireland!; 3.An assistant to do my messy lab work for me
Tell us a joke.
Why don’t aliens eat clowns? … Because they taste funny