Engineering Awareness Week 2007

Engineering Awareness Week - Transition Year Programme

Congratulations to Dawn Lonergan who was selected to take part in the Engineering Awareness Week hosted by ESBI (ESB International). Here are her words.

students7639_450x299.jpgEngineering was always a career I wondered about and then the opportunity to learn about it ecame up in Transition Year.  I was told at the start of October that I had a place and that I would be spending a week at ESBI.  My shoe size was surprisingly asked for just a few weeks later so I did wonder what I had gotten my self into. I was given a schedule a bit after that and I was looking forward most to the shadowing of engineers because I though that would be the most interesting. 

With a map of where it was located, I set off to the headquarters of ESBI on the 19/1/07. I arrived to the conference room at ESB to meet the other five schools that were specially chosen.  They were very nice and friendly.  Also, Sinead Long, the head of HR introduced herself.  A very friendly person who was not an engineer but worked with them a lot.  She informed us that she herself will be learning along with us which were very comforting to say the least!  That morning involved many women engineered telling us how they got into engineering and what they thought of it.  A highlight of that morning was an anecdote by an engineer called Deirdre O'Hara - (a bright character, who according to herself is the oldest woman engineer in ESBI).  She told us that engineering is very male dominated.  For example, at her first day in engineering in college her professor seems to not have noticed her being there because his first lecture was about not getting any girls pregnant!

wine011_450x299.jpgThat afternoon we all went to the substation at Finglas.  A large, electricity substation on the Finglas –Ashbourne road.  Did you know that no one actually works there?  And it is usually empty?  It's empty most of the time, except, when repairs are being made.  We were also warned when there, not to point because this would create an arc, which could lead to electricity running through you i.e. an electric shock.  We also learned about transformers.  A transformer is a piece of electronic equipment that brings the voltage of electricity down because when electricity is being sent from a power station to a substation i.e. Moneypoint (the largest in Ireland) to Finglas, it is sent at its highest voltage so that the loss of power on the way from the power station to the substation is low.  This is according to a scientific law.  

On Tuesday we went on another field trip.  This was my favorite field trip by far.  It was a trip to Turlough hill.  Turlough hill is located in the Wicklow Mountains.  It is a hydro-electric station, built in the 1970s.  It generates electricity through the force of water.  It was my favorite because it is such a fantastic idea to generate electricity because of the way it was constructed.  It is made up of two lakes, one natural, one man-made.  When most electricity is needed, an x amount of water is released from one lake to another and then in the evening rush hour the water is bought back up.  The building to look after this and the equipment is located under and beside the second lake.  We also went right underneath the other lake, through tunnels that were used for a chase seen in a film rumored to be James Bond.

On Wednesday we shadowed engineers.  I shadowed an engineer called Claire Duffy from Donegal.  She is more involved in the planning of power stations and was well able to answer my myriad of questions about ESB and electricity.  A project she is working on at the minute is a very interesting one.  Ireland has only very few high voltage lines and now ESB wants to build one between Ireland and northern Ireland through Monaghan and Cavan.  However these lines are being bad mouthed by local newspapers as being carcinogenic (ie have a risk of cancer).  However the funny thing is that coffee is more carcinogenic then these wires! 

On Thursday we went to Poolbeg, which is a place with much history.  It is known for its two red and white chimneys, a main part of Dublin sky line. I think they are now protected form being taken down; even though one of the chimneys no longer realises anything because what the chimney is connected to no longer works.  And the gas released from the chimneys is not very harmful to the environment, and what is released is done so under strict rules.  I learned a lot about the environment at Poolbeg, such as sometimes you see fluffy water?  Well that isn’t bad for the environment, it is just water that has been used to cool machines that has been swung around so fast that becomes fluffy. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with it.  Electricity generated by air, can only work at certain times. When the air is at a certain speed, it can only work, which is unfortunate!  And sometimes those turbines cut off birds heads!

We went to the control centre of the ESB, which was amazing to see how the whole of Ireland is linked by electricity.  And electricity, so important, is controlled by 3 main people!  A big shock for me!

The last day we had a closing ceremony with al the women engineer’s and the head of ESB.  It was a very nice end to a very informative week at ESB.  I wish to thank all involved for this opportunity.

Dawn