Here are the questions you asked our panel of people who work in the energy sector in Ireland.
I ended up choosing Electronic Engineering above the others, on the basis that the syllabus for this included more of the parts of science that I enjoyed (physics). Some of the colleges offer a basic first-year engineering course, at the end of which you will choose the type of engineering (although getting your choice will be dependent on your first-year results).
However, unless there is a niche market that you clearly know you want to get into, the choice of engineering course may not absolutely critical, as most of the engineering courses provide a general basis of all engineering principles and will prepare you for a range of jobs.
My engineering colleagues, who do similar work to me, would be from electrical, mechanical, and industrial engineering backgrounds.
Louise Stewart (EirGrid): I would recommend that you talk to as many different types of engineers as possible to see what is involved in each area and to find out if their expectations matched up with the reality of studying to be an engineer.
Also, try to gain experience in an engineering company where can see first-hand the typical working day for an engineer.
In addition, once you complete a degree you can always choose to go on and specialise in certain topics. For example, when I finished my graduate degree in civil engineering I decided to complete a master’s degree in water and environmental engineering.
Elva Bannon (Wavebob): There are plenty of options out there for engineering courses. A lot of universities offer a common entry for the first year or two and this gives you a good introduction to a few different areas before you choose what to concentrate on.
If there is something in particular you are interested in, see if there are any engineering courses covering it. There is always the option of further study after your degree, so don’t feel like you will be stuck in something if you feel you have made the wrong choice.
An engineering degree gives you a very good grounding in many areas which are applicable to every industry.
- Electronics and communication
- Computer science
- Renewable energy
More information on what engineering is and the different types of engineering is available on the STEPS website.
Choose a discipline that you have most interest in, you may be working in that area for the rest of your life! However, some engineering courses offer a broader engineering base, so if you’re not sure, it might be an option to choose one of these. Read a list of the courses available in Ireland.
It’s also worth researching what kind of career you will get from a specific engineering course in college and what you will be doing each day in that role, rather than just looking at the subjects studied in university.
For example, if your interest is mainly in science or chemistry specifically, you could potentially do a course in Chemical Engineering. This can lead to many routes in itself, for example Process Engineering within manufacturing.
If you are more mechanically minded, you could go down the automotive industry, among others. There are lots of online resources to help you discover what engineers do on a daily basis. For example, this video gives an example of what a Process Engineer does on a daily basis.
I would suggest an aptitude test if your school offers one. A good idea could also be to study a broader engineering course which incorporates a number of disciplines. You could then see where your interest and competency lies and specialise in that area.
The engineering course I did myself in TCD was a general engineering course for the first two years. I studied all disciplines and I chose to specialise in Electrical and Electronic Engineering for the remainder of the course.
It was a very informed decision as I had been exposed to a number of disciplines.