Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Louise Lynch from ESB to give some advice for people considering this job:


Louise Lynch

Structural Engineer


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  Louise Lynch
If you always want to know how things work and are fascinated by structures like grandstands or bridges then a career in civil and structural engineering may suit you. If in school you enjoy subjects like maths and physics, and since these would be the foundations to the engineering college course, you will probably enjoy the course. If you like the idea of working for a company where you could get to travel, then international companies such as ESB International would suit you well. Engineering is a good and challenging career so you have to want to be challenged in your work, to solve problems and to come up with ways to improve designs.

The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with clever technology. They will often follow the latest developments in their chosen field, and prefer mentally stimulating environments.
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A Day in the Life of a Solar Physicist

“The other project with which I’m involved is Solar Orbiter. It is in its infancy, but is expected to be launched by ESA in 2015 and is a mission to orbit the Sun.” – Louise Harra, Solar Physicist

A typical day? Well that depends! My job consists of several aspects. The first and main one is research. For that I make use of spacecraft and ground-based observatory datasets to try and understand explosions on the Sun. 

This involves a lot of computing work, and also much collaboration internationally.

All of our space missions are international collaborations. Our main hardware partners are in Japan and the US.

Ground-based observatories are all over the world from Poland to China to Argentina. 

We make use of the internet to get access to many of these datasets, but also have opportunities to meet with people from around the world, design observing campaigns, and help design new spacecraft in the future.

Another aspect in my job is teaching. I lecture to first year undergraduates in astronomy. This is a lot of fun, as it is an interesting subject to teach, and many students have already tried their hand at astronomy to some level. 

I also supervise PhD students and am the graduate tutor for our department. Graduate level teaching is very different as the aim is for each student to leave as an independent and confident researcher. 

The interaction between ‘teacher’ and student is different from that at undergraduate level as it concerns research: the answers are never known in advance so new territory is always being explored.

As with many other parts of my job, there is travelling involved to meet with collaborators in Japan and the US – and following the launch I hope to spend an extended period in Japan where the spacecraft operations will take place.

The other project with which I’m involved is Solar Orbiter. There are a lot of technical challenges for a mission such as this, and I am working with top-class engineers to ensure that we have a suitable instrument design and safe technology to successfully carry out this mission.

This work is being done in collaboration with other European colleagues from Belgium, France, and Germany.



Article by: Louise Harra ~ Institute of Physics in Ireland