1. What is your name?
2. Where do you work and what is your role/job title?
I work with Arralis Ltd, an Aerospace & Defence Radio Frequency technology company, as a Mechanical Design Engineer.
3. What were the main ‘career decision’ milestones in your life so far?
Before and during my time at The University of Limerick I strongly considered becoming a military pilot, having been a part-time soldier with the Irish Defence Forces. My success in academia led to my decision to enter the Aerospace sector as an Engineer instead, completing a Mechanical Engineering degree at UL.
Another significant milestone was my decision to specialise as a Space Industry Engineer, I always had an interest in space but having completed my 8-month UL co-op programme in Switzerland & Germany with major European space companies, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the field and thus enrolled in a Space Science & Technology Masters programme at UCD. The opportunity to gain further industry experience with Arralis ensued.
4. Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
My early interest in Engineering was fuelled by tales of interesting projects my Grandfather, Pat Carroll, was involved with as a Civil Engineer.
My mother, Shirley, as head of American Airlines in Shannon Airport has blessed me with the privilege to travel worldwide from an early age, 25 countries thusfar, which certainly influenced my attraction to the Aerospace sector.
And finally, role models along the way instilled a strong sense of ambition in me, be it from academia where my principle Donncha O Treasaigh encouraged me closely or from an industrial setting where inspiring professionals such as Joe Moran with RUAG Space took the time to strengthen my resolve on my career direction.
5. Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Absolutely, returning to my hometown of Limerick to gain experience in precisely the area I desire has been ideal, with the friendly work environment here on UL’s campus being one of the best parts.
6. How did you go about getting your current job?
I approached Arralis with a proposal to complete my Master’s thesis with them and was delighted to be accepted and assigned to a R&D Radar project. Upon completion of my degree I was offered a full-time position which seamlessly transitioned into my current role.
7. Describe a typical day.
A typical day can vary based on the tasks at hand but will operate from 9:00-17:30 at the Arralis Limerick HQ where I can be found working at my desk on 3D models via CAD software, doing hands-on work at the mechanical workbench or laboratory or attending regular meetings via video conferencing with other Arralis locations or partners.
8. What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
Some of my main tasks & responsibilities include:
– Designing and developing new parts, systems and solutions from concept to production.
– Working closely with manufacturers, vendors and the RF Engineers on system assembly and integration.
– Providing support and expertise on Space related projects.
– Assisting in the design and showcasing of products and prototypes for international exhibition.
9. What are the main challenges?
One of the main challenges with working on high performance technologies such as our RF products is maintaining a clear understanding of the specific functions the consumer base want. Our strong presence at shows worldwide ensures that we have an ear to the ground, but in an ever-evolving market it’s important that the engineering resources remain dynamic to take advantage of the identified opportunities.
10. What’s cool?
Being a contributor to the global space initiative in any form is a very cool part, in particular within Ireland where the space sector is one of the most rapidly growing industries.
I’ve also had the opportunity to perform seminars and interactive events with students countrywide and really enjoy spreading a passion for space to the emerging generations.
11. What’s not so cool?
Space technologies must undergo rigorous and lengthy procedures from proposals to qualification testing meaning a long wait before your design may become a reality.
12. What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
Being an Engineer & Space Scientist I bring a unique skillset that allows me to work on a pragmatic basis from an Engineering standpoint (e.g. design, development, testing etc.) while also supporting the project with space expertise (e.g. spacecraft design, in-orbit operation, ESA proposals etc.)
13. What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
Physics, DCG (Technical Drawing) & Construction Studies were three of my most influential subjects and formed the base from which my professional skillset was built. Despite progressing to a Physics post-graduate at UCD from UL’s Engineering Department, I was well equipped to succeed due to my physics experience in school.
14. What is your education to date?
B.E. Mechanical Engineering (with Japanese) at University of Limerick
M.Sc. Space Science & Technology at University College Dublin
15. What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
With CAD design constituting a large part of my workload my experience at 2nd and 3rd level with various software certainly stands to me. Much of my Masters focused on equipping me with the tools to apply my engineering knowledge specifically to space applications, this has proven very valuable.
16. Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
With an inquisitive mind I’m always eager to learn more and I’m sure I’ll have further training opportunities. Obtaining a pilot’s license and furthering my scuba diving qualification are two priorities of mine, both valuable in progressing my space career.
17. What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
In any design profession, seeing a concept come to life is a very rewarding element. One such example, during my time with Robo-Technology Munich, was the design and construction of a demo cell exhibiting two 6-axis robotic arms equipped with ultrasonic probes scanning a helicopter panel. It had its maiden showcasing at the European Space Tech Expo where I had the opportunity to demonstrate the system first-hand to major space industry players.
18. What personal qualities do you have that help you in your career?
I think having an outgoing and ambitious demeanour helps a lot by not setting any limits to what you can achieve. Being open and flexible to the opportunities that come your way will allow you to progress rapidly and make great connections along the way.
19. What is your dream job?
My dream job is to become a Spacecraft Engineer/ Astronaut.
The most common background among all astronauts is Mechanical Engineering and with space flight becoming more and more accessible it is absolutely possible that my professional capacity could involve a trip to the ISS or future lunar base.
20. What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
Individuals looking at working in the Space Sector are usually those with a passion for it, this is a great driving factor to have that many professionals haven’t. Don’t worry too much about the precise area of the Space Industry to work in, just dive in, gain experience and there will always be opportunities to refine your trajectory going forward.
21. What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
For a relatively small, highly specialised company such as Arralis, I believe some important characteristics are:
Confidence – When you get the opportunity to have a voice in meetings or on a project you must rise to the occasion.
The ability to work under your own initiative – Often your potential is only limited by yourself, lead the way rather than waiting for instructions.
Outgoing – Particularly with other people, making friends and professional connections is critical in a niche such as the Irish space sector
22. What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
Any engineering experience involving design and development of products. In particular experience with CAD, project management and public speaking would be beneficial to the day-to-day activities.