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PhD Candidate, MaREI, the Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland in University College Cork

Shane McDonagh

Job title
PhD candidate
Company
MaREI, the Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland in University College Cork
Industry
Renewable Energy Engineering
Experience
8 years in college
Education
  1. Degree in Mechanical Engineering in NUIG
  2. Masters in Energy Systems Engineering in NUIG
Favourite subjects in school
Construction Studies
The best thing about my job
Getting to travel and present to new people with whom you discuss new ideas, and debate different aspects of your work. Plus, this travel often brings you to cool places around the world.

You need to be creative, logical, and sometimes patient for this job but the work comes easy if you’re interested in what you do.

 

Being able to present and discuss complex topics amongst your peers is essential 

 

My main tasks

I use computer programmes to analyse data and look for patterns that will tell us how the energy system will work on a big scale. This involves understanding the best ideas out there at the minute and how your work will add to them. You need to be creative, logical, and sometimes patient but the work comes easy if you’re interested in what you do.

Challenges

You can get stuck on certain problems which becomes frustrating quite quickly because you don’t have a big team to help you. And if you’re like me solving the problem is the fun part, writing up your results not so much although it is probably the most important bit. It can take some time and requires a lot of focus.

Who influenced me

My interests! I’m a problem solver, love technology, politics, and I’m a big environmentalist. I get to incorporate all these into working on solutions to climate change and pollution that can make the world a better place.

Work/life balance

The flexibility a PhD gives you is second to none. If you manage your workload well you have loads of time for holidays and hobbies. However, it’s not until after you graduate that it opens up more doors for you and you start earning a full salary, which some people don’t like.

Most useful aspects of my education 

Once you reach a certain level everyone in the room is pretty smart, and so the part of my education that has proven most useful is communications. Being able to present and discuss complex topics amongst your peers is essential and even though it doesn’t seem like it at the time school and college set you up well for this.

Useful work experience 

Several PhD students at any IT/university would be willing to let someone come in a check out what they do. Research scientists in industry would have similar roles too and so that could be useful to check out.

Top tip

Finding what you’d like to do day to day, working in a big team, at a desk, on a site, is as important as the area you want to work in. Just because you like maths in school that doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy accounting, and likewise just because you don’t like physics that doesn’t mean you won’t make a great engineer.