Embracing learning opportunities

11 October 2022

Kate Finnegan tells us how her role as a Student Civil Engineer at Waterman Moylan has enabled her to get to grips with all the essential elements that go into a project from start to finish.

Originally coming from Waterford in Ireland, I moved to Dublin in 2018 to begin studying for my Engineering Degree at Trinity College Dublin (TCD). After two years I chose to specialise in Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering to coincide with my love of maths and science from school, and it’s been the perfect combination so far.

Applying the knowledge from university

Four years in, I’ve reached the stage where students take a six-month Internship and I decided to join Waterman Moylan’s Civils team because they appealed to me as a large multidisciplinary engineering consultancy that has worked on lots of interesting projects. I also knew this would be a good opportunity to begin understanding the essential elements that go into a project from start to finish and begin applying that knowledge to what I’ve learnt at university. I haven’t been disappointed! Even in such a short space of time I’ve already been exposed to so many different projects, such as the Belcamp scheme on Malahide Road, Broomfield in Malahide and Mooretown in Swords. Throughout this time, I’ve met lots of people and been able to take advantage of endless learning opportunities. A lot of what I have seen with these projects are the final steps in the design before they are submitted for planning, which is something I never had the opportunity to see in university.

I’ve enjoyed studying Engineering because, although it’s been challenging, I’ve learned so many necessary skills such as working as part of a team and how to adapt my knowledge to new scenarios to solve a problem. The thing I enjoy most is facing a new challenge every day and being able to apply the problem-solving skills I’ve learnt to find a solution. Although there are lots of different fields to study in Engineering, problem solving is at the centre of everything you do, so every day there is something new to learn and it never gets boring!

The importance of teamwork

Due to the short length of my Internship, I haven’t been working at Waterman Moylan that long, so a lot of my daily responsibilities are making the most of the ongoing learning opportunities. I often shadow other members of the team to find out what they’ve done and learn from the work they’re doing, gradually building my skills in things like AutoCAD which I only had a basic understanding of before. Working has allowed me to increase my abilities in a very different way by navigating real-life projects. Every day begins with a new challenge and working as part of a team has been a major factor in helping me to learn how important collaboration is.

Having the opportunity to take part in site visits to two of Waterman Moylan’s major sites in Dublin was one of the great opportunities I’ve had during my internship. The Clery’s site on O’Connell street is a great example of a project where the original structure is being retained. Another site we visited was College Square Dublin 2 which is at a much earlier stage of construction where the secant pile wall had been installed and the building is still at basement level. It’s been very interesting to have the opportunity to see the range of impressive structural elements in person.

Once I’ve completed my Internship, I’m planning to complete my Master’s at TCD as this will allow me to continue my research in Civil Engineering, but I hope the remainder of my time with Moylan will allow me to gain a broad understanding of all the other areas connected to Civil Engineering so I can choose what I would like to focus on going forward.

Kate Finnegan