University of Limerick for Batchelors, Masters and Doctorate, Convent of Mercy, Doon Co Limerick and Fedamore NS, Co Limerick
PhD, MSc and BSc
Stryker, Minteq Europe, University of Limerick, Asahi Kasei, Nobeoka, Japan, GE ECCO, Dundalk.
Manager in Stryker Additive Manufacturing
Favourite thing to do in science: Materials Science, 3D printing, learn and understand
I am a Materials Scientist who loves to make (and eat) food, laugh and live with my family, a girl, a boy and their Dad and who enjoys making a difference
I grew up on a farm in Co Limerick with my three sisters and four brothers – a big family. I left there to go to school and University. Maths was the subject I loved most in primary school and in secondary school when I could chose my subjects, I chose the science subjects.
I studied Materials Science in University of Limerick. Materials Science explains how materials like metals, plastics and ceramics are formed, what makes them strong or weak and how to make them even better.
I worked in Dundalk in a factory that made great products that we all need to protect our electronic devices if there is a ‘surge’ of electricty- like when lightening strikes. I loved working there – they did so much Materials Science – but I went back to University to study some more – I also love to learn!
I moved to Japan to live and to study how to make tablets better at getting medicines into people. I then studied in Universities in Ireland, England, France and at laboratories in Belgium to work out how to make engineering ceramics more tough and strong so they could be used in machines, for example engines, and they would not wear out like metals do. Ceramics are lighter that metals so less fuel is used too.
I worked at the University of Limerick for 3 years, managing the test lab that was used by many different people and companies – so really varied work. Then, I moved to Cork and I still live in Cork with my husband and two children. First, I worked in Research and Development (R&D) in a company making heat resistant ceramics for the steel industry. That was completely different and I learned a lot.
Then I moved to Stryker. Stryker is a Medical Device company. There are more than 3000 people working for Stryker in Ireland in Cork, Limerick and Belfast.
I work in Stryker, Co Cork in the first and biggest 3D-printing factory in the world printing hips, knees and parts for your back (spine)
I work at Stryker now. Stryker makes medical devices. For example, hips, knees and defibrillators are all made in Ireland by Stryker. I work in Additive Manufacturing. Maybe you have heard of 3D printing? Well Additive Manufacturing is 3D printing with metals. Using computers, we can draw what we want to make and then print it out in metal. Additive Manufacturing is fairly new and it is great because we can make what people really need to get well.
I am very lucky. Because of the science and engineering subjects I studied and learned in college, I got to work with Additive Manufacturing when it was just a small idea. Now, there is a whole factory in Co Cork and everything we do is Additive Manufacturing. We print out hips, knees and spine parts that really help people, all over the world.
In my work, I love that I get to help people. Every day, there is something new. There is a lot of variety and I get to learn new things all the time. I get to work in teams with other people but also, there is plenty for me to do by myself. I love that mixture of types of work.
My work involves many different subjects for example, materials science, engineering, business and finance. I get to meet and work with new people, from different cultures and countries and I also work with friends that I know for a long time.
Most of all, I love that by the work I do, I get to really make a difference.
My Typical Day
Early start at my desk by answering email. About half my day is taken up with meetings where we check progress, make sure we are doing the right things. The rest is getting the work done! I'm at my desk more now than when I started. Most of our engineers are working at the machines or at their computers
At my desk by 7:30am, reading and dealing with emails, answering any questions asked, forwarding on any information requested during the previous evening and night. We work with people from all over the world so often, I’m asleep while they are at work and vice versa.
Then we have a project ‘scrum’ meetings. Its not exactly like playing rugby but it is about making sure we are winning! This is a quick run through on the day to day activities that makes sure we get the project work done. Are there any stumbling blocks or any reason we cannot make progress? What is needed to make sure we get that part made, designed or tested. Do we have enough people available? Do we have enough raw materials? Is the lab ready to do the testing? Are we ready to go in to the lab and do the testing? Are we going to meet all our targets for the day, for the week, for the month, for the year?
There are many meetings during the day. It is how we communicate. Though I work closely with other engineers and scientists, we need support and the work of many others too. We need the people with finance knowledge and understanding to help us out with the business decisions. We need the people who really understand the rules and regulations to make sure we are doing things the right way. We need other teams to help us make the products that we develop.
Of course we stop for a cuppa and catch up with each other. Its not all work and we do have a lot of fun. For most of us, the working bit is fun. We are lucky to work at something we enjoy. We have some great spaces where we can get together and work on projects – on a particular idea, or problem we are trying to solve. In the middle of our office, there is a tea/coffee dock, with lots of high stools and high tables where we can lay out our work, discuss, get advice and opinion and help and have a cuppa.
We have a great ‘Cafe’ in our factory where we can go a get lunch and chat with colleagues and friends.
From 13:00, we get to talk to our Stryker team mates who are based in the US. We work closely with them and use Skype and video conferencing a lot. I have worked with a group and there were about 20 of us from all around the world including the US, Europe and China. I was so glad everybody understood and used English!
Some days, I will meet with my boss and we will review the work we are doing and we will check with each other to see how things are going and also what else we could be doing to make Healthcare better.
I try to be on the road home by 17:00. My family need food and so do I so I usally catch up with them after work. Sometimes though, I’m not at home at all. Sometimes, I need to travel outside of Cork, or outside of Ireland or outside of Europe. I may need to go and see the company that makes our machines. Or I might need to check that the company that makes our raw materials is doing it properly. We also need to keep learning and staying current with new ideas. We may need to travel to conferences in different countries.
No 2 days are the same but this is a flavour. I hope it helps.
What I'd do with the money
Run a competition that gets schools designing for 3D printing (Additive)
Last year, GE ran a competition globally, asking schools to apply for 3D printers. They recently delivered those printers to some lucky Irish schools.
I would use the money to get a competition going in these and any other schools too to start thinking about designing for 3D printing.
If you could make anything at all (because now you can print it out) what would it be?
Imagine what we could do or fix if we could make anything at all?
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Irish, female, literal
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Surfing (but I'm rubbish at it:( )
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not a lot though I did get a terrible time from 1 teacher because I used her nickname - to her face
What was your favourite subject at school?
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Apply it and made something brilliant happen
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
I still remember a book called ‘People at Work’. It was about pottery makers. It was all about how pottery is made. I was fascinated that clay, from the earth, is used to make cups, plates, tiles and all the ceramics we use in day to day life by shaping that soft clay and then heating that clay from the ground so that it becomes hard, tough and strong enough to work so well in everyday life. Materials Science, when I discovered it was an obvious choice!
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
Maybe a baker - though you could argue that is still science!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
That both myself and all around me keep their health, contentment and more time
Tell us a joke.
I gave 20 minutes writing about a typical day at work in here and it didn't upload.....