Shannyn has been working as a Design Engineer since she graduated college with a first class honours degree in Product Design from D.I.T Bolton Street in. She has previously worked in the recycling and waste handling industry designing baling and compaction machinery systems with Moovmor Engineering. Shannyn joined Prodieco in Sept 2019.
What is your job at Prodieco?
I work as a Design Engineer in the feeder department with a team of design engineers, where we design machines that feed tablets into various blister packets which are supplied to the pharmaceutical industry. In the feeder department there is a large variety of machines to design. At present I am working on the vertical feeders but the job can vary from day to day depending on customers’ demands and needs. I design the blister tooling through the use of SolidWorks 3D Modelling Software.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am working on the vertical feeders but the job can vary from day to day depending how busy the department is. Often I will have other projects to carry out such as designing parts for manufacture for a variety of machines. Often we will have to make modifications to existing parts to suit a new tablet type or shape.
What inspired you to become a mechanical design Engineer?
It’s actually quite funny as I wanted to be a primary teacher when I was in school. I always had an itch for a job that had a creative aspect to it and allowed you to make a positive difference in your daily job to those around you. When I was in TY in secondary school I did 10 weeks work experience with junior infants and I noticed my strengths were on the creative spectrum and really enjoyed teaching arts and crafts. Design was always something I had an interest in and really wanted to work in this area. Ironically for my leaving cert I didn’t do any engineering subjects and went on to do a BSc in Product Design. I grew up with one brother and seemed to prefer his lego to my own Barbie dolls so I guess this interest in Design really stemmed from a young age. Often my parents would be sent back in the Mc Donald’s drive through to change my happy meal toy of ‘my little pony’ for the ‘boys hot wheels’ happy meal. I rathered getting toys that had a function and more over than something that just looked pretty. I guess it became more apparent from a young age that this was the type of career I would pursue someday.
What was your university experience like as an engineering student?
It was definitely a positive experience. I came from a mixed gender secondary school into DIT Bolton Street, now TU Dublin where there was only 9 females in my class of 40. 8 females graduated alongside me in 2016. The experience as a female in engineer was challenging at times, although we all treated each other as equal there were always the one or two that had a sense of superiority over females. In 2016 I did a final year project and won Best Presentation Prototype. I designed a spinal board for water safety. The safe extraction spinal board is used to remove casualties from the pool to the pool bank while minimising the occurrence of spinal injury. The majority of students may have assumed that a male student was going to win the award as Bolton Street in the past has been associated as a male driven university so I was very proud of this achievement.
Did you do any engineering internships during college?
In third year of college I was offered the opportunity to study mechanical engineering in Hong Kong Polytechnic for 6 months. This opportunity was only available to students who had the top 5 averages of the course so I worked hard to achieve this and got offered a place. I was the only female student who got offered this opportunity but I was lucky to be travelling with some very close and supportive friends from college, one who I actually knew since secondary school.
What has been your best experience working as an engineer?
The best experience for me as a design engineer is when you get see a project physically come together and be able to say ‘I designed that’ or to know you had an input in the design as a project. Seeing all your hard work come together as a physical product you can see and interact with it and to know it works is one of the greatest feelings of achievement. When I was in college I had created business cards for my final year exhibition which stated my motto ‘design to make a difference’ I really feel like I am getting to do that in my current role as I am designing tooling which packages products which ultimately brings a better quality of life to customers.
What has been your most challenging experience working as an engineer?
Part of being a design engineer is accepting that you will never know everything and unfortunately the best learnings come from mistakes sometimes. It’s a career that requires much time and patience. My most challenging experiences are when you are at the final stages of assembling a product and a hurdle comes in your way, this can be a manufacturing error or an issue with a part from supplier, these can be things you didn’t think would happen along your process so be ready for anything to go wrong. Design is a process of continuous improvement and to be successful design engineer you need to keep an open mind, make time for your own development and accept that you need to learn from short comings, it’s about keeping a positive mind-set as things won’t always go your way and as engineer it’s your job to face these problems with a positive attitude every day. I would say design engineering is an industry for people who enjoy solving problems and not for people who enjoy creating problems.
Mechanical engineering is typically and male oriented environment. What are your thoughts on diversity in the mechanical engineering industry and what can we do to make it better?
I think there is a fear or lack of confidence amongst females to enter into the engineering and IT industry. I think companies have come a long way in terms of creating an inclusive work place for gender equality. I have been very fortunate to work for such welcoming and inclusive companies since I graduated from college. Schools are working hard to ensure career paths of all natures are open to all genders. I am really happy to be a representative for females in engineering and take part in a number of different events. I attended the Women in STEM event in 2019 and really enjoyed talking about being a female engineer and encouraging other females to consider that path. STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Do you feel women are treated equally to men in engineering?
There has always been a stigma around the opinion of engineering is more suited for males and not females. I think it’s important for any individual to go in with the mind-set that if the engineering sector is the industry you want to enter and if that’s what drives you then you are just as capable of doing the job regardless of gender. We all study the same modules together in college, it’s up to us what level of degree we receive but at the end of the day we are all learning the same common knowledge therefore we should all have an equal chance when looking for engineering and IT roles.
I am lucky enough to not have had any negative experience in the industry but I have talked to other females who find they need to work hard at proving themselves. I’ve also heard about women who have been overlooked for promotions or positions because they have been or are stereotypically expected to take time out of work for various reasons such as to have children, that’s just an assumptions of certain people.
What advice do you have for girls interested becoming an engineer?
If it’s something that you are passionate about go for it. Don’t let anything hold you back, even if you don’t think the odds are in your favour find a way to make them work in your favour that’s what I did. There is no point in living a life that someone else expects you to live. In my experience its hard work and determination that gets you where you want to be. There are no short cuts! You’ve got to work for what you want. Nothing worth having comes easy!