I am graduating this year with a BE (Hons) focused in Mechanical Engineering from Technological University Dublin – City Campus, and I am hoping to continue on to complete a Masters in Aerospace Engineering. I have always wanted to specialise into the space industry, but there are not a huge amount of options to study Aerospace Engineering in Ireland. So, I decided to pursue a general degree in Mechanical Engineering first.
When I first started my degree, the university was Dublin Institute of Technology, this has now merged with two other Institutes of Technology to form TU Dublin. While engineering is offered in all three campus’, I can only give you my experience from the City Campus. In this course, it is mandatory to begin with a ‘common first year’, so whether you want to do electrical, mechanical, or civil engineering, you all complete the same initial first year. The idea behind this is to give the students a taste of the different engineering disciplines that the college offers as a way to definitively determine which path is right for you. At the end of each year, the course further specialises, and you submit your preferences.
At the end of the first year, you submit your preferences for one of three different strands, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Civil and Structural Engineering, or Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. I chose Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering so I can only give you an insight into this strand. At the end of second year, you are given the option to specialise further again into Building Services Engineering, Manufacturing and Design Engineering, or Mechanical Engineering. I decided to remain in a broader degree and chose Mechanical Engineering which I felt would best allow me to continue on to a Master’s in Aerospace Engineering.
Throughout the course, we covered a wide range of topics including, but not limited to, Engineering Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Instrumentation, Computing, Energy and Built Systems Engineering, Materials, Mechanics, Control and Automation, Manufacturing Engineering, Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics. We also learned how to code in a number of languages, how to use CAD packages such as SolidWorks or AutoCAD, how to utilise certain manufacturing processes and what they are best suited to, and how to create models and simulations in packages such as ANSYS. We also learnt about data processing and analysis and developed effective communication skills and technical report writing.
Each year, we also completed at least two ‘Design Projects’ where you are given a project and you work in groups of about 5 or 6 people to complete it. These projects are usually slightly tweaked ‘real-world’ projects that companies undertake. For instance, one year we had to design a ventilation system for a clean room facility. Another project was to complete a breakdown analysis of the various components within a chosen mechanical system, and another was to design an prototype of an autonomous warehouse picker to follow a designated path, pick up certain items and carry them to a desired spot and put them down. In first year, we had a really fun one! We had a robotics project called Robosumo, where we designed, built, and coded these mini robots to ‘compete’ in an arena and if your robot pushed the other one off the arena then you won the match. It was a lot of fun, and a great way to learn about basic robotics, circuitry and coding!
People often have this idea that Engineering is really difficult to study, and I agree that it requires a certain amount of hard work, but don’t let the amount of work put you off! Engineering I have found, is very much a team sport. Everyone is there to help each other through it and you’ll never find yourself stuck with nobody to turn to. Someone is always there willing to help you understand a certain topic, or help you out with the practical side of a project.
I know that some universities include a placement semester or year. My course unfortunately did not include one, but you were encouraged to try and pursue an internship during the summer months. Internships can be difficult to come by, but if you can I would encourage you to try and find an internship. The careers office is always there to help as much as they can! But if you don’t get one during university, it’s not the end of the world! I only managed to find one internship myself, in the summer of my third year. Even though I found myself working in a completely different industry to what I was looking for, I gained skills and knowledge that not only helped me in understanding certain aspects of subjects in my final year of university, but have also helped learn what it’s like to work as part of an engineering team in the real world.
I loved my university experience, but I am also delighted to be finished. It can be hard work getting through an engineering degree but it’s worth it! Some of the best aspects of my course were definitely the design projects. Getting the chance to practically work through a real-life problem and figuring out how to solve it somewhat on your own I felt is a fantastic way to learn! Of course, your lecturers and supervisors are always there to assist if needed, but a lot of the time, we were able to figure things out ourselves.
Another part of the program I should mention is the breakdown of lectures to laboratories. So, one of the main reasons I chose TU Dublin over other universities in Dublin was due to the fact that we had more practical hours than other universities. Pretty much every lecture we had, had a corresponding lab which allowed you to put theory into practice and more clearly understand how things work and why. About half our hours each week were dedicated to labs and I really liked this aspect of the course!
As a student you can also avail of free membership to a number of Engineering Organisations such as the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), or Engineers Ireland, if you’re in Ireland. I would highly recommend joining such organisations! Yes, it looks good on your CV, but they also run a lot of talks and presentations throughout the year which can be extremely fascinating to attend!
An overview of my course can be found here: https://www.dit.ie/catalogue/Programmes/Details/DT022?tab=Overview