Choosing a path that suits your interests

12 October 2022

Matthew Dehantschutter, a Mechanical Engineering Intern, sheds light on his internship within Waterman Moylan’s Building Services team as part of his Master’s programme at University College Dublin.

From a young age I was interested in maths and physics, and these were always the subjects I enjoyed most at school. Engineering seemed to be a suitable choice based on my interests as I enjoy dealing with the practical application that comes with these topics.

I initially chose to do a general entry Engineering course at the University College Dublin (UCD) as I was unsure which discipline I wanted to specialise in. My first year was helpful in determining which path I would follow, and I ended up choosing mechanical engineering (ME) over other disciplines because the topics I enjoyed most, such as engineering design, thermodynamics, physics and continuum mechanics, were more mechanical-focused. ME is also an extremely broad discipline with opportunities across multiple fields and sectors, which appealed to me even more because it meant I’d have a lot more choice when it came to choosing a job after university.

Gaining experience in a multidisciplinary environment

As an interdisciplinary engineering company, I chose Waterman Moylan over other companies because I wanted to gain experience in a multidisciplinary environment and believed this would allow me to gain valuable experience in building services, as well as giving me the chance to work alongside other engineers to see how each discipline ties in together. One aspect about working at Moylan that I particularly enjoy is the variety of projects that I get to be part of across Ireland, from residential schemes to hotels or commercial developments. It’s great to be working in this environment because every day is different, plus you get to work on a variety of tasks which contribute to the overall success and completion of a project.

For me, the highlights of studying Engineering so far have been the projects I get to work on as part of my degree. One project I am particularly proud of is the design of a ‘Rotating Disc Electrodeposition Device with Ultrasonic Agitation’ as it was relatively new concept that aimed to solve a certain issue. The purpose of the device was to uniformly electroplate a standard four-inch silicon wafer with a nickel-nanoparticle composite. This involved working in a team to do all the relevant research of standards, materials and procedures, to develop and design a device which would comply to the initial project brief.

The practical aspect of this job is the most appealing for me, so to get to work my way through a project from concept through to design and finally to implementation is really interesting. This is quite similar to the approach used in my studies, so it is great to see the real-life applications of this method. Similarly, I have found that some of my modules from university correlate with what I’m learning in the office, which allows me to pick up on things quickly, which is very helpful.

Taking on more responsibility

As part of the Building Services’ Mechanical and Electrical (M&E) team, my day-to-day responsibilities involve a wide range of tasks such as creating and updating M&E layouts for buildings using AutoCAD, collecting commissioning certificates for services from subcontractors, issuing certificates and drawings, creating design files for houses, and using the DEAP software to calculate Building Energy Rating (BER) ratings for buildings, plus much more. The team have been really helpful in talking me through the tasks they complete and why they do them so that I can help and take on more responsibilities. I think it is vital for students to get experience in the workplace and to work alongside professionals in order to get a more realistic representation of what an engineer does, and the application of the theory that is taught in university. It is also an excellent learning opportunity, as you get to see the day-to-day operations of a working environment, the different software packages used, and to learn the tricks of the trade from professional engineers.

At the moment, I’m only gaining experience in building services, but I would like to increase my knowledge and progress to a position as a Mechanical Engineer in the future. It is also important to me that I further my learning by taking part in related training courses for continued professional development in order to become a more qualified and competent engineer, through my work or through CPD (Continuing Professional Development) providers such as Engineers Ireland (also known as the Institution of Engineers of Ireland or IEI).

When it comes to anyone who might be unsure if engineering is a career for them, my advice would be to choose the discipline you are most interested in by doing your research, seeing what you like and dislike about each sector so you can choose the path that best suits you and your interests.

Matthew Dehantschutter