The manufacturing sector in Ireland employs around 200,000 people and it is estimated that each direct manufacturing job supports at least one other job in the wider economy.
There is a widespread belief that manufacturing involves low-skilled work in unpleasant and even dirty surroundings. The reality is that the skills and competencies needed within manufacturing are changing. This is due to factors such as scientific and technological advances, automation, changes in regulation, new developments in computer technology, and the drive for continous improvements in the way things work.
Mechanical Engineering involves the design, manufacture and operation of machines of all types and sizes that involve motion or have moving parts.
The range of work for the mechanical engineer means he or she could be working on anything from the design and manufacture of Formula 1 racing cars, high performance engines, and precision machine tools to working on major power generation plants and production equipment used in the chemical, electronics and food processing industries. Mechanical engineers are one of the main developers in the new, emerging fields of nanotechnology and biotechnology.
Entry level occupations in this area include the machine users and operators (Operatives). Then there are those who service, install and repair the machinery, for example the Fitters, Mechanics and other Craftspeople.
Engineering technicians are employed to test, install and operate more complex machines. They may also work alongside Engineering Professionals who would have the overall responsibility for the operation and functioning of the equipment. Senior professional positions would include responsibility for the design and production of new machinery, or the installation of large scale complex projects that may take years to build.
Third level college courses in mechanical engineering provide a very broad-based technical education. The career is an excellent foundation for graduates who, in time, want to move into more management-oriented positions such as engineering manager, project manager and general manager.
Aeronautical engineering is the branch of engineering behind the design, construction and science of aircraft and spacecraft. Aeronautical engineers bring ideas to reality. They are responsible for the creation of newer, safer and more energy-efficient, economical methods for travel including airplanes, helicopters, missiles, satellites and spacecraft.
Professionals in this field may specialise in Structural design, Flight mechanics and control systems, Aerodynamics, Instrumentation and communication or Manufacturing and maintenance.
Aeronautical engineers, technologists and technicians can specialise in a particular area or pursue a career in such areas as:
The automotive industry
Space exploration centres
The defence forces
This profession has global appeal and a qualification in aeronautical engineering is a genuine passport to an exciting career almost anywhere in the world.
Manufacturing (or Industrial) Engineers are involved in the design and development processes that result in products. Whether it’s clothing, cell phones, computers, cars, CDs and DVDs, food and drink, athletic gear, medicine or cosmetics – virtually everything we use on a daily basis has passed through the manufacturing process.
These and many other products have become part of everyday life because advanced manufacturing techniques make them reliable, affordable and available. Manufacturing engineers work to improve quality and productivity across the manufacturing process.
What has made manufacturing processes so versatile is technology. Advanced manufacturing applies the latest developments in mechanics, electronics, computers, and automation to improve production.
In the past 10 years, the use of computer systems and software to monitor and control processes in large and small plants around Ireland, has led to increased product quality and productivity.
Developments in communications technology have increased the ability of Manufacturing engineers and plant managers to check on operations, even if it’s halfway around the world. Systems can be set up to transmit data on how much material is being used, how machines are running and if problems are occurring. The ultimate example of what can be achieved is “lights-out manufacturing,” which allows a highly automated plant to be run by computers and robots, with minimal involvement by skilled human operators.
Graduates in Manufacturing Engineering can work in areas such as:
The industrial manufacturing sector including aerospace and automotive engineering
Production – including food and beverages, computers, electronic components etc
Management and design consultancy