Emmet O’Brien talks to Smart Futures about being a Manufacturing Test Engineer with Farran Technology.
What were the main ‘career decision’ milestones in your life so far?
The main ‘career decision’ milestones I have made to date was deciding to study topics I really enjoyed in college. I was really interested maths and physics in school so this led to me studying Electronic Engineering in college.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
My teachers were probably the biggest influences on my career choices. Also, advice I got from guidance councillors who told me to study what I enjoy was great advice. I then picked a course with broad options that allowed me to find a role in engineering that keeps me interested. Reading books from authors like Carl Sagan , Isaac Asimov , Gene Roddenberry and Stephen Hawking also had a big influence on my interest in space technology.
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Yes reasonably, but like any job you would always like a higher salary with more holiday time.
How did you go about getting your current job?
I heard from a colleague in another company that Farran were hiring. Farran was appealing as it is very much a Research and Development company with a small staff developing new products and devices. I went for an interview and got the job. I previously worked for an American supplier of aeronautical and space data processing devices.
Describe a typical day?
I don’t really have a typical day! The product range is large and different projects have different issues and rules to follow. It can range from product design, product assembly, testing, meeting customers, report writing and reading academic papers. With a small staff everybody is exposed to wide range of responsibility.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
The core responsibilities would include ensuring that the devices we make meet the needs of the customer in terms of quality and performance. It is important to ensure that the customer receives the product they want.
What are the main challenges?
Some of the main challenges of my job include finding solutions to problems or requests I receive from industry. When you are working within a research and development environment there is not always a solution immediately at hand. Thinking on your feet with time constraints can lead to a few stressful days, although it is very satisfying when you find a solution.
What are the aspects of your job that you like?
It is always very satisfying to find solutions to new and unexpected problems and it gives you a great sense of completion when the problem is solved and you learn something new .
What are the main challenges of your job?
Writing reports and paperwork in general can be tedious.
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
The main skills I bring include an interest in the ideas we work on and the ability to solve problems swiftly and efficiently. I am also able to work within a team and have the flexibility to complete a number of tasks under pressure.
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
For the Leaving Certificate I studied maths, applied maths, physics, geography, German, Irish, English and technical drawing. Maths and physics were the most influential of my subjects by far as they led me to choosing Electronic Engineering in college.
What is your education to date?
I have a degree in Robotics and Automation and a Degree in Electronic Engineering design with first class honours. I received both of these degrees from Cork Institute of Technology.
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
All the education I completed in third level is needed for my job. Degrees in Electrical Engineering or Physics would apply equally to the role. Increasingly the use of programming skills is becoming very important. Lego Mindstorms or the Raspberry PI are great starting points for learning programming skills.
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
I would love to undertake a PhD but that would take a huge amount of my time at the moment so I plan to undertake a masters degree in the next year or so, I can’t decide what topic to study!
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
Learning new things and being involved in big projects are always enjoyable. A few projects I’ve worked on have been launched into space!
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
Being hard working and diligent are two of the best qualities I bring to my job.
What is your dream job?
Work on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN or mission control with NASA or ESA would be my dream job as I’m too old at this stage to play rugby for Munster or soccer for Liverpool!
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
Make sure you enjoy maths and physics and working on complex problems. If you look at technology and want to see how it works then you are suited to engineering. When I was 10 or 11 , I would disassemble radios and TVs to see what was going on inside.
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
The three most important characteristics needed for my position is an ability to work on your own and in a team, having a good work ethic and being able to communicate your ideas.
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
There are a number of ways to get a good background for this position. Any electronic circuit experience, working with radios, radars, computer programming and debugging circuits also provides good experience.