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 Shane Callanan from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:


Shane Callanan

Electronic Engineer

Smart Futures

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  Shane Callanan
Being an Engineer is a great career choice. It offers so many opportunities both in Ireland and world-wide. Most positions will have terrific travel opportunities after a few years experience under your belt, and if you choose you course carefully your qualification will be recognised by employers all over the globe. Also an engineering qualification will open doors into management roles if that is your preferred career choice, but the reverse is not the case (if you do a course outside of engineering, you will probably not be able to branch off into engineering a few years after graduating).

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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Motor Neurone Disease
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Motor Neurone Disease

What is Motor Neurone Disease?

Motor neurone disease  is a rare condition where parts of the nervous system become damaged. This causes progressive weakness, usually with muscle wasting. The condition occurs when specialist nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord called 'motor neurones' stop working properly.

Motor neurones control important muscle activity, such as gripping, walking, speaking, swallowing, and breathing. As the condition progresses, people with motor neurone disease will find these activities increasingly difficult, and eventually impossible, to do.

There are different forms of motor neuron disease

  • ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is the most common form and accounts for approximately 60% to 70% of all cases
  • PBP (progressive bulbar palsy) accounts for about 20% of all cases
  • PMA (progressive muscular atrophy) accounts for the remaining 10% of cases.

In all three MND forms symptoms are very similar. However, they progress at different speeds. Exactly what causes motor neurones to stop working properly is unclear, but there is not currently thought to be a link with factors such as race, diet and lifestyle.


Motor Neurone disease typically only develops after the age of 40 (specifically between the ages of 50 and 70 years). Out of every 10 people with AMD 6 are men and 4 are women.

Supports At Third Level Education:

Motor Nuerone Disease is one of the Neurological Conditions covered under the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) system.

Full details of the DARE screening criteria are available here.

You don’t have to be eligible for DARE (Disability Access Route to Education) to get support in college. All students with a verified disability, regardless of whether they come through DARE or not, can avail of a variety of academic, personal and social supports while studying at third level. Further information on the support available in college can be found at

In the Workplace

Many organisations now make public claims to be an "equal opportunities employer". This suggests the existence of an equal opportunities policy (EOP), which is a policy statement adopted by the organisation declaring an intent not to discriminate and, further, to promote equality by taking steps to aid disadvantaged groups.  Such employers are in effect promising to avoid discrimination on grounds of sex or marital status, and may also make such a commitment in relation to people with a disability and racial and ethnic minorities.

Workplace Equipment Adaptation Grant (WEAG)

If you are a person with a disability who has been offered employment or are in employment, and require a more accessible workplace or adapted equipment to do your job, you or your employer may be able to get a grant towards the costs of adapting premises or equipment. Details of WEAG grants available and how to apply are available here.

Impact on Career Choice

Skills for workplace success fall into two main categories: hard skills and and soft skills. Hard skills are job-specific and they vary, depending upon the industry or field in which you want to work. For example, a graphic artist must have the computer skills that go with that job.

Soft skills are the personal characteristics that go with a variety of jobs - they include social skills, problem solving, communication, time management, and organisation. For example, a person who prefers to work alone might find a research job particularly appealing. Explore Career Skills in more detail here.

Motor Neurone Disease does not affect intellectual capability, and with the availability of computer technology, many people with MND have developed successful careers. 

The type and progression of individual's symptoms is an important factor in deciding whether to continue working and for how long. Being able to stay at work also depends on other factors, including the nature of the work itself, the physical suitability of the workplace, how supportive employers were prepared to be, availability of aids and equipment, and the practicalities of travelling to and from work. 

Famous People with Motor Neurone Disease

The renowned English physicist, Stephen Hawking, and guitar virtuoso Jason Becker are living with motor neuron disease.

Useful Links
HSE Ireland - Motor Neurone Disease 
HSE Ireland health information portal - detailed information on motor neurone disease.
Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association 
Irish organisation dedicated to working on behalf of people living with MND and their families and carers.
Disability Access Route to Education
Higher Education Access Route
Student Finance