1. Laura Ryan BE (Hons) Energy Engineering , CES Energy, Clontarf, Ireland
I’ve lost count of the number of times I have told someone I’m an energy engineer and we have both agreed that it is a leading-edge line of work and study. Never before has sustainable energy generation been so topical and it is and will be a great challenge to achieve this sustainability worldwide.
This reality helped to inform my decision to choose to study Energy Engineering in UCC. Having always preferred mathematics-based subjects in school and enjoyed solving problems, engineering seemed like a no-brainer. Energy Engineering had the added attraction of being a new, forward-thinking stream of engineering.
The course itself combines the main learnings of the other disciplines of engineering in UCC, with a focus on power engineering, control engineering, thermodynamics and renewable energy systems. First and second year build a strong foundation in mathematics and physics, along with some experience of various civil, chemical and electrical and electronic engineering modules. Third and fourth year focus more on energy generation and optimisation.
A number of particular projects and field trips contributed to my educational experience in the Energy Engineering course. As with all things, you can’t beat actual experience!
A class visit to the wind farm in Kilgarvan, Co. Kerry was a greatly enjoyable experience. With a power capacity of over 50MW, the construction of this windfarm is a commendable engineering feat. The land itself is mountainous and difficult and the turbines themselves are vast and sparsely-placed in order to maximise energy production. The visit helped to reinforce our learnings from college and gave us an idea of the scale of engineering projects.
One fourth year module stands out as being particularly beneficial and enjoyable. The module centralised around designing a highly energy efficient and “Eco-friendly” building. The brief required us to look at the building from the ground up; we chose and designed the building fabric and orientation based on the location, the building services, i.e. heating, ventilation and cooling, any power generation plant (including renewable technologies) the control system and any other sustainable energy ideas.
The project allowed us to use aspects of different modules from throughout college in a “real-world” application and having to stick to strict deadlines simulated an actual working environment. Since leaving college and working in an engineering company, I can really appreciate the value of this project.
In summary, studying Energy Engineering in UCC was both challenging and gratifying and I think its versatility has put me on the path to a strong career in the engineering sector.
2. Richard O’Shea BE (Hons) Energy Engineering, PhD Student, MaREI, UCC
We live in a world made possible by our ability to harness energy, be it in the form of electricity, heat, or automotive transport. I chose to study energy engineering in order to better understand how, and where energy is used, both in Ireland and globally. I also wished to gain an insight into the challenges and opportunities present in the generation, supply and use of energy. The degree itself was very broad ranging, covering topics from electrical, civil, and process and chemical engineering, as well as communication and presentation skills. The broad range of topics covered enabled me to begin understanding the scale and complexity of the energy sector, be it in energy efficient building design, power distribution, wind energy, ocean energy, bioenergy, or control systems for all of the above.
Throughout my degree I was granted many opportunities to partake in internships; after my first year I worked with Bord Gáis Energy, and after my second year I was granted a research bursary with Dr. Vikram Pakrashi in conjunction with the Hydraulic and Maritime Research Centre. As part of the degree, all students are required to undertake a four month placement in the summer of their third year. I was fortunate enough to be accepted to work with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative (MITiE). Following completion of my degree, I was granted a Science Foundation Ireland internship in the Biofuels and Bioenergy Research Group headed by Prof Jerry D. Murphy (where I subsequently accepted to carry out a PhD). Additionally, I attended the first Summer Academy on Energy in the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in 2014 in which participants were introduced to lifecycle analysis, and were granted the opportunity to visit the largest oil refinery in Hungry, as well as Pannonia Ethanol, a large scale fuel ethanol production plant.
By doing energy engineering I have gained an understanding of the magnitude of the challenges faced by the energy sector, in terms of environmental impact, reliability, and financial viability, and I hope to contribute to some of the solutions of these challenges.
3. Shane McCarthy BE (Hons) Energy Engineering, Software Engineer, Uber, San Francisco,USA
College is certainly regarded by many as the best time of their lives. By choosing UCC you are giving yourself every opportunity to make the most of it. With competitive sports clubs, a wide range of societies, a vibrant social scene and a generally relaxed and friendly atmosphere it’s hard not to find what excites you, and it’s even harder not to meet other who share the same passions in life.
What’s more, by studying Energy Engineering you are also preparing yourself for what’s next, whatever that may be. A technical background is well respected in all disciplines, and it instills transferrable, problem solving skills in its students. In addition, the course also includes a paid work placement in your third year, which is an invaluable experience as it allows you get some perspective on what you want from your future career.
Overall, studying Energy Engineering in UCC opens many doors, some to things you may never have thought possible. Because of the international recognition a degree from UCC afforded me, I was accepted to one of the top universities in the United States, Notre Dame, where I completed a masters with a focus on Business Studies. From there I was able to help found and get involved in several startups. Following this, I joined a data analytics consultancy firm based in Chicago, and found myself working at Facebook in Menlo Park, California. Most recently I have joined Uber in San Francisco as a Software Engineer.
4. Dave Linehan BE (Hons) Energy Engineering, Engineer, EirGrid, Dublin
The BE Energy degree allowed the flexibility to explore multiple engineering disciplines, with modules in electrical, electronic, mechanical, civil, environmental, and of course energy.
I spent an enjoyable 5 months working on offshore wind development and electrical transmission with Mainstream Renewable Power in Dublin and I began working with EirGrid directly after graduating, in 2013.
I look back on my experiences studying energy engineering as some of the best of my life and I highly recommend the BE Energy at UCC”
5. Kate Murphy - Master of Energy student at The University of Auckland, New Zealand
In my last year of school I knew that I wanted to do an engineering course, I also had a keen interest in learning more about renewable energy so when I saw UCC had a new Energy Engineering programme which covered a wide range of engineering and renewable energy topics I knew it was the one for me.
I learned a lot from practical work through many labs and projects. I particularly liked working with my classmates on large group projects.
The course has benefitted me hugely by allowing me to work in the areas that I enjoy. After graduating I had the opportunity to work with MaREI where I gained a lot of experience working on projects such as Drive4Zero and H2020 funding proposals.
Since finishing energy engineering, I worked for MaREI in Cork until deciding to undergo a 12 month full time research masters on "smart voltage control for increasing penetration of renewables in the distribution system".
The Energy engineering course covers power systems and control in depth. This has helped me a lot so far with my current research and also gave me the opportunity to go down this research path in the first place.
I would recommend this programme to anyone who has an interest in renewable energy and becoming a well rounded engineer. This course covers a wide range of engineering topics from both the civil and electrical departments as well as energy policies and renewable technologies.
6. James Donegan - Engineer at Ocean Renewable Power Company, Maine, USA
I applied to the Engineering department at UCC as the subjects I had studied and liked the most in secondary school tended to be more technical subjects which revolved around problem solving such as Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, and Physics. The reason for choosing the Energy Engineering course specifically was that it opened my eyes to an issue in the world that needs attention, which is an increase in energy demand coupled with a decrease in the historical resources for that energy which is fossil fuels.
My favourite aspect of the Energy Engineering course was that it was interdisciplinary course between Electrical, Civil, Mechanical, and Process Engineering departments, all with a focus on energy. Because of this setup it never felt like you were being overexposed to a single department. The work which I enjoyed the most during the 4 years was the hands on projects which allowed the student to build circuits in EE, work with test flumes in CE, and develop MatLAB code simultaneously, all experiences which I have drawn on extensively in my professional life.
What I quickly learned when I began working is that, graduates really don't know much and that can be quite a daunting realization when surrounded by many experienced professionals. The skills I used most in my first few months out of UCC was computer programming (Matlab, C), CAD (AutoCAD, Solidworks), and report writing as my knowledge of the industry was naturally lacking compared to my peers. However by being exposed to experienced professionals and working under some talented mentors it was possible to gain significant knowledge, at which point all of the theory I learned at UCC began making sense and my knowledge base came full circle. Due to this, I would say that the aspects of the course which were most immediately beneficial were skills gained during project work during the semester, however the theory learned throughout the course is an important base. Group projects at UCC in which students are obliged to work together are also a significant advantage in the workplace and is something that I have felt has helped me differentiate myself from some of my colleagues. It is definitely evident that in order to succeed in your career you need to be able to work effectively in a team with diverse groups of people.
Immediately after graduation I moved to New York City to work as a energy performance analyst for a "green building" developer. After quickly realizing that NYC is quite a big place and wasn't for me, I moved to Portland, Maine in November 2012 to work for a tidal and river energy company, Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC). Over the past almost three years I have been part of a team that has designed, developed, and operated tidal and river energy projects which have been deployed and have delivered power to shore in both Maine and Alaska. I was initially brought on as a Test Engineer, then promoted to Electrical Engineer, and have recently been made a Director of the newly developed Irish subsidiary of ORPC, "ORPC Ireland", on top of my role as Electrical Engineer. ORPC is a small company with less than 25 employees, less than 10 of whom are engineers; because of this everybody is involved in all aspects of the company which the Energy Engineering course definitely helped me prepare for as it exposed students to all engineering departments.
I would definitely recommend the Energy Engineering course to others.
It gave me and my classmates the skills to step into the professional world in an array of different industries such as, Energy, Financial, Research, Consulting, IT industries to name a few.