Ronan Byrne talks to Smart Futures about being a project engineer in new Irish start-up Exergyn, which employs 12 people.
What does Exergyn do?
Our engine, the Exergyn Drive, works where there is waste hot water. We’re researching how to convert waste heat from engines and biogas sites into electricity.
What does a project engineer do in Exergyn?
I do anything that I’m needed for including product design, testing, writing programs and data analysis. There are only four of us in the engineering team so we do a lot of different projects and research.
Describe your typical day?
I go from designing products using computer-aided design (CAD) to reviewing them and later to the manufacturing stage. That’s spread over a week or two depending on how complicated the product is. The hours vary, but typically I work from 9am to 6pm.
What’s cool about your job?
We’re doing something that hasn’t been done before so it’s quite interesting and challenging. It’s like solving a puzzle. I’m involved in a lot of interesting areas so I don’t get bored or bogged down in one project. What are the main challenges? Because it’s a start-up, you might design something that doesn’t work straight away. You then have to go back and change it. That can be quite frustrating.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started out?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Often people think that asking questions is a sign of weakness or shows they don’t know something. Everyone has problems or struggles with aspects of their job so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
What subjects did you take in school and did they influence your career path?
In transition year, I wanted to be an accountant. I did work experience in an accounting firm towards the end of the year but I didn’t really like it. I had chosen my Leaving Cert subjects before that so I had picked accounting, economics, physics and music. I enjoyed physics and I wanted to build things so I felt engineering was a good fit.
What did you do after school?
I did manufacturing and design engineering in Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), which I finished in 2012. After college, I started working in Exergyn.
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle that you’re happy with?
Sometimes I have to work long hours but I don’t mind doing that during the week as I have the weekends free. I play football the odd night but work doesn’t really interfere with that.