Physical and Mathematical Sciences is a broad sector, with many potential career paths for those with qualifications and suitable skillsets, including medical work, engineering, teaching, finance and technology.
The engineering sector itself is made up of a wide range of companies providing a diverse range of products and services.
The most usual route is through taking a degree at a third level college, often following this with a post graduate qualification.
Students can study mechanical engineering at Level 6, 7 or 8 in colleges across Ireland or they can study a general engineering degree then specialise in mechanical engineering in the final year.
Physicists want to understand how the world works, in every detail and at the deepest level. This includes everything from elementary particles, to nuclei, atoms, living cells, solids, liquids, gases, living organisms, the brain, supercomputers, the atmosphere, galaxies and the universe itself.
There is a whole host of career opportunities for mechanical engineering graduates.
A wide range of opportunities exist in both electrical and electronic engineering.
Smart Futures is a government-industry programme providing science, technology, engineering andmaths (STEM) careers information to second-level students, parents, teachers and careers guidance counsellors in Ireland.
David McKeown is a space scientist with the European Space Agency. David also lectures on the Space Science and Technology Masters at University College Dublin in the areas of vibrations and control as well as launchers.
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
Describe a typical day?
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
During my first ESA project, we looked at space telescopes. They are 20 metres long and they shake when they move, which causes a blurry picture. We worked on ways to get a clear picture even when moving.
We also worked on an experimental robot arm for a Mars Rover. You have to solve problems for the atmosphere on Mars. This is difficult as things don't weigh the same.
Now we’re trying to control vibrations on launchers. When a rocket takes off, the whole rocket vibrates as it is made of very light material. If it vibrates it might go off course. We’re working on ways to control these vibrations.
I also lecture the Space Science and Technology Masters at University College Dublin (UCD) on the areas of vibrations and control as well as launchers.
What is your education to date?
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
I run quite a few outreach events, including Science Hack Day and Artek Circle. I also run Dublin Maker. It gives anyone who tinkers with stuff in their garage the opportunity to show it to the public and explain how it works.
I’ve talked at events such as Electric Picnic and TEDxDublin, and in the Science Gallery. Science is very interesting – it just needs to be communicated in the right way.