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What is Engineering?

Engineering is a varied discipline. Interested in building bridges? Designing and creating prosthetic limbs? Powering a city?

Engineering is an occupation with an extremely wide reach. The term ‘engineering’ covers many fields and, by extension, many skills. Engineers are scientists, inventors, designers, builders, and great thinkers. They improve the state of the world, amplify human capability and make people’s lives safer and easier.

What Courses Are Available?

Readers have two basic options when it comes to choosing a course: to select a general program that provides an overview before allowing students to specialize, or a specialized program if you know exactly which branch of engineering is for you.

General introductory degrees are available from NUI Galway, Trinity College, University of Limerick, DCU, DIT, Cork IT, UCD, and IT Blanchardstown. Students learn the fundamental principles of engineering (chemistry, physics, applied maths, etc. ) in year one, before specializing from year two onwards.

Studying Engineering in College

Different colleges provide different specialist options (e. g. Civil, Mechanical, Electronic, Computer, and a joint Electronic/Computer program in Trinity; Computer Engineering or Mechatronics in Blanchardstown), so you will need to do a little research beforehand.

A wealth of specialist Engineering programs also appears in the CAO Handbook. A non-exhaustive list includes Electrical/Electronic Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering. Awards are available from Level 6 to Level 8. Although the subjects are hugely diverse, there are common themes such as the development of scientific understanding, mathematical ability, and problem-solving skills.

Career Options

Engineering is a great career for several reasons. The work is challenging, creative, and rewarding. Practitioners move from one project to another, each with its own unique set of problems and solutions.

Civil engineers are a part of every element of the construction process, from the planning stage right through to the cutting of the ribbon on the finished building, road, facility, or pipeline. General civil engineers work closely with builders, surveyors, and specialized civil engineers to oversee all elements of a project, dealing with the site, people, and materials involved.

Electronic engineers work in many industries. In telecommunications, they design, install, and maintain transmitters, satellite equipment, and the ever-expanding range of IT devices. The installation, upkeep, and improvement of manufacturing equipment and systems also require the services of an electronic engineer.

Electronic engineers also play a key role in the design of new products – everything from mobile phones to airplanes. They use Computer-Aided Design (CAD) to produce models of the product. This is then tested to ensure that it works properly and to allow the engineer to smooth out any problems in the design. The final step can then be to oversee the production of the new product on a large scale.

Mechanical engineers design, build, and install new products or machinery, or improve existing models or products. Whether you end up working on jet engines, prosthetic limbs, or software programs, the principles are the same. Research and development involve lots of time spent in the laboratory, carrying out tests and feasibility studies; using complex machinery and computers to work out which material is ideal, how the device should work, which components are required, and so on.

When a product is ready to be built, a prototype is designed (this could be a miniature model, life-size replica, or computer simulation) and subjected to rigorous testing – both in the laboratory/factory and in the real world.

Related Jobs

If you’re interested in a career in engineering, you’ll find that there are many specialties to explore. Below are the most common types of engineering careers you might consider:

  • Industrial engineer
  • Biomedical engineer
  • Environmental engineer
  • Marine engineer
  • Civil engineer
  • Mechanical engineer
  • Petroleum engineer
  • Computer engineer
  • Electrical engineer
  • Nuclear engineer
  • Materials engineer
  • Chemical engineer
  • Aeronautical engineer
  • Software engineer


Is Mathematics important if I want to study Engineering?

Engineers solve problems by quantifying and, for this reason, Mathematics is the keystone of the profession. You must be fairly comfortable working with Maths.

The entry requirement for BE programs is a Grade C3 or higher on the Leaving Certificate Honours Maths paper.

However, if you are studying for Pass Maths in the Leaving Certificate, you can still gain entry to the College of Engineering and Informatics bypassing the NUI, Galway Special Engineering Entrance Examination. The standard of this exam is between the Higher and Lower level Leaving Certificate Mathematics. The Special Engineering Entrance Examination is held during the summer months and you can get the exact date, the syllabus, and sample papers.

Are there jobs for Engineers and Project Managers out there?

Job prospects are excellent for Engineering and Project Management graduates. The world is a fast-changing place and will always need Engineers and Project Managers to create new technology and to anticipate, prevent or solve problems. 

Where Can I Study Engineering?

Explore your options here

Did you know?

The world’s most expensive engineering project is the International Space Station (ISS). A joint project between five participating space agencies, the total estimated cost of the ISS is thought to be around $150 billion.

Further Resources

STEPS Programme

Engineers Ireland

The Irish Academy of Engineering is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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