Career Profiles: Emmet O’Brien

1. What is your name?
Emmet O’Brien

2. Where do you work and what is your role/job title?
Farran Technology. Manufacturing test engineer.

3. What were the main ‘career decision’ milestones in your life so far?
Studying topics I enjoy in college. Maths and physics from school led to Electronic engineering in college.

4. Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
I suppose my teachers. In particular advice from guidance councillors to study what you enjoy. Picking a course with broad options allows you to find a role in industry that can keep you interested. Reading books from authors like Carl Sagan, Issac Asimov, Gene Roddenberry and Stephen Hawking had a big influence on interest in space technology.

5. 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.


Questions about your current Job

6. 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 as very much an R&D company with a small staff developing new products and devices. I Completed an interview and got the job. I previously worked for an American supplier of aeronautical and space data processing devices called DDC.

7. Describe a typical day?
Varies wildly. The product range is large and different projects have different issues and procedures. It can range from product design, product assembly, testing, meeting customers, report writing, reading published papers etc. With a small staff everybody is exposed to wide range of responsibility.

8. What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
The core responsibilities would include ensuring the devices that are manufactured conform to specifications of the customer in terms of quality and performance.

9. What are the main challenges?
Finding solutions to problems or request from industry. When you are working within an R&D environment there is not always a solution immediately at hand. Thinking on your feet with time constraints can lead to a few stressful days.

10. What’s cool?
Finding the solutions to the problems above. Very satisfying to find solutions to new and unexpected problems, gives a sense of completion and you learn something new.

11. What’s not so cool?
Writing reports and paperwork in general can be tedious.

12. What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
An interest in the concepts and the ability to solve problems swiftly and efficiently. Able to work within a team and have the flexibility to complete a number of tasks under pressure at times.


Questions about education and training

13. What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
Maths, Applied Maths, Physics, Geography, German, Irish, English and Technical drawing. Maths and physics are the most influential by far.

14. What is your education to date?
Degree in Robotics an Automation and Degree in Electronic Engineering design with first class honours. Both from CIT.

15. What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
All of my education in third level is needed for my job. Degrees in Electrical engineering or Physics would apply equally to the job role. Increasingly the use of programming skills is becoming an absolute skill form C, C++, java etc. Lego mindstorms or the Raspberry PI are great starting points for learning programming skills.

16. 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 master’s degree in the next year or so, I can’t decide what topic to study.


Questions about yourself

17. 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.

18. What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
Hard working and diligent.

19. What is your dream job?
Work on the LHC at CERN or mission control with Nasa or ESA !! as I’m too old at this stage to play rugby for Munster or soccer for Liverpool.


Advice for people thinking of this job as a career choice

20. 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 take it apart to see how works then you are suited to engineering. When I was 10 or 11 I would disassemble radio’s and TV’s to see what was going on inside.

21. What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Ability to work on your own and in a team, hard working and good communication skills.

22. What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
Any electronic circuit experience, work with radio’s, radars, computer programming, debugging circuits.