NUI Galway (2010-2014), Mountmellick Community School (2005-2010), St Patrick's B.N.S. (1997-2005)
B.Eng., PhD (soon!)
Medtronic, Vistakon (Johnson&Johnson)
4th year PhD Researcher
National University of Ireland Galway
Favourite thing to do in engineering: The satisfaction when my computer code or simulations work as intended!
I love solving problems, travelling to new places, and spending free time hanging out with friends.
I’m from Mountmellick, Co. Laois, where I went to both primary and secondary school. In school I loved maths and biology, but also music and art. I was never really sure what I wanted to do, but always asked a lot of questions and got advice from many people. This led me to study Biomedical Engineering in Galway.
8 years later I still live here, with my girlfriend Maud and my dog Thea. I spend my free time playing music and video games with friends, and some sports like tag rugby and squash.
I investigate how the heart generates force (for a heartbeat), to better understand how we can design medical devices to help people with heart disease
In my lab we are all very interested in the structure and behaviour of body parts – like the heart, bones, and arteries that bring blood around the body. We perform experiments to better understand how they respond to forces and stretching, which helps us learn what is needed to design suitable medical devices and implants (like hips replacements and stents).
I use the information we get from experiments to build computer models of the heart. Simulations let us test how medical devices might interact with the heart if they were to be implanted. This allows us to redesign and make the device as safe as possible, before creating the real thing – saving a lot of time and work!
My Typical Day
Solving problems with my colleagues, writing computer code, and drinking tea and coffee!
I wake up and head into the university, where I have breakfast with work friends. Most of my time at work is spent either performing experiments or writing computer code for simulations.
Every day in research has something different, as we always have new interesting problems to solve – this may be something like choosing the best mathematical equation to describe some material behaviour, or using engineering knowledge to understand how we can treat diseases. In my research group people solve a huge range of problems, from getting clear pictures from MRI machines, to designing new materials for bone implants. We all help and advise each other – one of the most important aspects of engineering is teamwork and collaboration!
What I'd do with the money
There are some great Engineering courses for kids run by the Centre for Talented Youth Ireland, which usually have a low budget for practical work. I'd donate the money to them with some suggested experiments!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Motivated, Inquisitive, Bearded
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
When I worked with a local medical device company we designed a temporary hand prosthetic for someone who had lost theirs. It was basic, but allowed them to pick up and hold things. It helped them until they received money to get a realistic electronic replacement. It was so rewarding to follow a project from concept, through to design, development, and delivery.
What or who inspired you to become an engineer?
Luckily I went to an excellent career advice counseller around the time of my leaving cert. He told me all the exciting things you could do as an engineer - mainly using maths to solve complex problems, and I've been hooked ever since.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Maths, Biology, Music, Art
What did you want to be after you left school?
I had so many different ideas for a long time - musician, mathematician, doctor etc. I had no real understanding of engineering until I was 17!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Myself and one of my best friends looked really similar during school. He used to get in trouble, and the vice-principal would always think it was me!
If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?
Something that involved music or maths (or both?)
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Rory Gallagher, The Frames, many others...
What's your favourite food?
Chicken and mushroom vol-au-vents with chips
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I went to Zambia to teach when I was at school. It was such an interesting experience - a completely different world! I think working with the kids there was one of the most fun times of my life. That, and my time at University!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To be healthy, surrounded by people I love, and to always have an interesting problem to tackle!
Tell us a joke.
I entered 10 puns into a contest hoping one would win - no pun in-ten-did. Ha!