Engineers make the difference

Find out what makes a good engineer, what disciplines there are and more about studying engineering.

Engineering graduates help shape the world around us by developing and designing new products and new ways of doing things in many areas of life. Engineers play a vital role in our economy, they attract companies looking for skilled graduates and many engineers are entrepreneurs who create 
jobs. Trained engineering graduates have skills which are attractive not only to engineering companies, but to other businesses with their recognised numeracy and organisational skills.

Engineers are needed to provide solutions to many of the challenges facing us such as climate change, energy shortages, water shortages, transport and medical related challenges, including supporting an 
older population.

What makes a good engineer?Engineers have enquiring minds, they like to find out how things work and plan better ways of doing things. They are good at problem solving and they think logically.

Studying engineering in collegeThere are many options open to anyone who wants to pursue a career in engineering with courses available from certificate to honours degree level.

What leaving certificate subjects are necessary or useful in studying engineering?Not all engineering courses need honours maths, but for entry to honours degree courses at university you will need at least a higher level, grade C in your leaving certificate maths. Check the requirements for the course you are interested in.

Other subjects which are useful to study for an engineering degree are physics, chemistry and applied mathematics.

Engineers make the difference

“There are many different engineering courses on offer in universities and institutes of technology”

Engineering disciplinesEngineering is a very diverse field of 
work and there are many areas you can specialise in:

  • Aeronautical engineering
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Biosystems, agriculture and food engineering
  • Building service engineering
  • Chemical and process engineering
  • Civil engineering
  • Computer and software engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Electronic engineering
  • Environmental engineering
  • Manufacturing and industrial engineering
  • Materials engineering
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Mechatronics/electromechanical engineering
  • Structural engineering

There are many different engineering courses on offer in universities and institutes of technology. It is worthwhile researching the different engineering disciplines to see which one you are most interested in. You can also join a course such as a ‘common entry’ or ‘undenominated’ course, which will allow you to study engineering at a general level for the first year or two, after which time you will make a choice of what area of engineering to specialise in.

Focus on biomedical engineeringBiomedical engineering combines the fields of biology, medicine and engineering, and 
is recognised as a varied and interesting career choice. Many devices and machines which improve or even save people’s lives have been developed by biomedical engineers, for example: pacemakers, bionic muscles, artificial organs, contact lenses and artificial hips.

tall building

“Over 80% of the world’s coronary stents and 40% of the world's artificial hip joints are made in Ireland”

Biomedical engineering is a unique mix of biology as well as mechanical, chemical and electrical engineering. A biomedical engineer will develop and use materials and medical equipment for clinical research, as well as for diagnosis and treatment of patients. Biomedical engineers have designed and built such life-saving devices as heart monitors, high-tech miniature devices for the use in the treatment of heart and lung disorders, rehabilitation aides, artificial organs and life support apparatus.

Biomedical engineering is one of the most successful and advanced industries in Ireland. Over 80% of the world's coronary stents and 40% of the world's artificial hip joints are made here.

Further resourcesFind out more about engineering disciplines by downloading the STEPS career sheets highlighting engineering disciplines, or read the STEPS book ‘Engineering your career’ with information and advice about studying engineering. Visit -

Provided by the Engineers Ireland STEPS Team (2011)