Career Profiles: Liam Kenny

Questions about your career and its development

 

1.What is your name?
Liam Kenny

2.Where do you work and what is your role/job title?
Arralis Ltd. Product Design & Manufacturing Engineer

3.What were the main ‘career decision’ milestones in your life so far?
Choosing to study Product Design and Technology for my undergraduate was one of my career decision milestones that stands out. I fell in love with the course. I always wanted to do something along the lines of engineering or electronics. The Product Design course allowed me to get a taste for a variety of different areas from design to engineering, material science, electronics and psychology.

4.Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?

From an early age my father has had an influence on my career direction, his job is heavily involved in the engineering/construction sector and exposed me to the whole aspect of building, designing and making from an early age.

In recent years, the likes of Elon Musk and SpaceX have been an influence renewing my interest in design and engineering for the space industry.

5. Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Definitely. The job has great flexibility and sometimes doesn’t feel like work as it is stuff I enjoy doing.

Questions about your current Job

 

6.How did you go about getting your current job?
I was recommended and introduced to the company CEO by an entrepreneur we mutually knew. The company was looking for a designer/engineer with 3D printing knowledge, we met and the rest is history.

7.Describe a typical day.
Every day varies slightly, but typically I would start off by checking my emails for anything that may have come in. The rest consists mainly of me using Solidworks to create 3D CAD models of parts for our products and systems. I am constantly liaising with other people within the company to make sure the designs I am creating suit their needs and that other parts they are creating such as circuits fit into what I am designing. From these CAD models I confirm that everything is aligning and fitting, and once confirmed, I get them manufactured using various processes such as CNC machining and 3D printing.

8. What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
One of my main tasks within the company is to design and develop 3D CAD models of all of our product parts and assemblies. I will then manage the manufacturing and gold plating of the parts before handing them onto my colleagues for circuit mounting and testing.

9.What are the main challenges?
Since a lot of the products and systems we are developing have never been done before it creates a lot of challenges figuring out how to make it work the way you want it to. Some of the challenges can be exciting, requiring you to think creatively and outside of the box in order to come up with new solutions to unknown problems.

10.What’s cool?
There are two things I find cool:

1) Seeing something you created and designed becoming a reality using processes like CNC machining,3D printing etc.

2) Seeing your parts being used successfully, be it in an aircraft flying around the world at 36,000 ft or on a satellite at 36,000 km travelling at over 11,000 km/h in geostationary orbit.

11.What’s not so cool?
Paperwork and documenting everything, is the only downside that can come with creating and developing something new.

12. What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
The skills I bring to my workplace are design and design-thinking, integrating the user needs and user experience into a product from the start. I also bring 3D printing skills and knowledge to the company, as the company hopes to research into this field my hands-on experience comes as a benefit to my workplace.

Questions about education and training

 

13.What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
Engineering and Science are two subjects I feel were influencers in my career path. Engineering taught me how to create new fully functioning parts/products from nothing with my own hands. Whereas science helped develop my curiosity deeper into how things work or are formed, taking a scientific approach of evaluating and investigating, and asking: How? Why?

14.What is your education to date?
BSc in Product Design and Technology (Level 8) from the University of Limerick.

15.What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
Thinking outside the box… I know this seems very broad but during my college degree we were taught this a lot. Often if your focus is on one specific area or subject you can find it difficult to take a step back from the problem and consider possible solutions from other industries or subjects, which restricts your ability to really innovate to create new solutions to new problems.

16.Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
I would possibly consider doing a Masters at some stage in the near future to expand my knowledge and skills into electronics further. But with the rapid changes in technology I feel you are always informally self-training and upskilling to keep up with new developments and trends without even thinking about it.

Questions about yourself

 

17.What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
Completing the development of a new product is always rewarding. Seeing all the work you put into creating something from scratch, by collaborating with work colleagues, innovating and problem-solving, it always brings a smile to my face to see it fully functioning.

18.What personal qualities do you have that help you in your career?
Determination and people skills. No matter what the job or task I am always determined to get it completed and try not to let anything get in my way or get me down.

I get on well with others and feel I have good people skills. As I am constantly working with other people on projects, I feel that this quality has helped build good working relationships and allows project to run smoothly.

19.What is your dream job?
Am I not in a dream now? …I think what I am doing now is near my dream job, designing new innovative products. Throw in being my own boss and I have my dream job!

Advice for people thinking of this job as a career choice

 

20.What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
Just go for it… Don’t be afraid to give everything a go or think that you might not have enough experience. You will always be learning new things from your work colleagues and you will always have something to contribute. Little did I think in school I would have worked on high-end lifesaving medical devices and now designing and manufacturing top of the range radar and communication systems for aircraft and satellites within a couple years after finishing college.

21.What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
There are no specific characteristics I would say are required for the job, but I would say for any job to be confident, enthusiastic and friendly.

P.S. being optimistic will also bring you a long way in life!

22.What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
Any experience in an engineering or a design background would be helpful for this position. Gaining experience anywhere you can to show/prove to an employer that you are good at what you do or have certain skills. This could be anything from finishing a project (at work or personally), hitting a milestone on time, building a prototype etc. Anything that shows you are hard-working, dedicated, reliable, skilled, willing to learn etc.