Having studied Land Surveying in Spain and switched roles from a Site Engineer to become an Assistant Structural Engineer in Dublin, Patricia Ferreras explains why it’s never too late to change your career.
Since joining Waterman Moylan in 2017, I have finished my studies, graduating with a BEng (Honours), and went on to move from my role as a Senior Structural Technician to become an Assistant Structural Engineer 18 months ago.
Constantly evolving and challenging yourself
My path in engineering hasn’t been a straightforward one; I studied and worked in different disciplines before choosing Structural Engineering. Originally from Asturias in the north of Spain, my first degree was in Land Surveying but, one year after finishing my studies, I decided to stay with a friend in Dublin to practice my English and travel a bit more. Three months after I arrived, I started working at a surveying company and from there I began working as a Site Engineer. This was when I decided to go back to college and study Structural Engineering so I could learn how to design the buildings instead of constructing them.
I suppose I chose engineering because I’ve always been intrigued by how and why things work since I was young – I always loved building things and taking them apart. Although it might have taken me some time to find my current career path, engineering has proven to be everything I expected and more because it is so interesting, constantly evolving and challenging.
The most fascinating project that I am working on at the moment is called Bective House Hotel, which involves the reinstatement and change of use of a protected manor house into a two-storey, 64-bedroom 5* hotel in a 180-acre walled site overlooking the River Boyne in County Meath. In addition to the structure’s restoration, a new glazed block will be constructed that will link to the concourse of the new hotel buildings in addition to a restaurant, spa, gym and swimming pool. I’ve enjoyed being involved in delivering this scheme because the project relates to designing and renovating existing and protected structures, such as the house and a protected stone bridge.
Daily life as an engineer
I’ve really enjoyed my time at Waterman Moylan as there are a variety of interesting projects that pose unique challenges. All my colleagues are very knowledgeable and have a range of different experiences, and I enjoy the fact that the company is multicultural with staff of many different nationalities, much like myself. What’s even better is that the company has organised social events so we can learn a bit more about each other’s cultural traditions through gastronomy. We had a cooking event, where my Spanish colleagues and myself were able to share simple traditional dishes such as Spanish omelettes, black pudding, pastries and other desserts that everyone could cook at home – these are great dishes to eat cold or quickly re-heated in the microwave, so would be great for a work lunch.
I like the way the company is evolving and adapting to the reality of everyday life, especially after COVID, where having an efficient work-life balance is becoming more of a priority. Although some engineering consultancies can be seen as more traditional and rigid in their policies, I think Moylan is making an effort to be more flexible and adapt to their staff’s needs, which is particularly important to me as I have a young family at home.