My name is Hanna Begley and I’m currently a 4th year student in Aeronautical Engineering. I’ve decided to stay on after this year to complete my Masters in Aeronatucal Engineering in UL.

So, lets start with how I ended up choosing my degree.

The summer before transition year, I completed a summer course in engineering at the Centre for Talented Youth. The course was so enjoyable that I decided to pursue engineering as a career. An engineer in the Aer Corps gave me some advice on pursuing a career in aeronautical engineering - he recommended Queens and UL, but of course I chose UL!  The co-op opportunities (work placement), the amazing campus and easy travel from my home in Kildare were just some of the main reasons why.

In engineering, I enjoy applying the mathematical tools we’ve learned to the design of systems and components relating to aircraft (and other engineering problems). At this stage in the course, stuff I couldn’t get my head around early on is being applied to much more complicated issues that make much more sense now. In 2nd year I got to participate in the Johnson and Johnson WiSTEM2D (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Manufacturing and Design) team project award. From this, we received mentorship from women in the STEM industry while working on team projects with women in other STEM degrees in UL. This gave me a great chance to network and get to know the other girls STEM courses, many of whom I’ve also worked with on the engineering ambassadors programme.

Plane in the sky


Back in Transition Year in school, my goal was to get into UL and then go to Boeing.  For the next three years, my dream was slowly realised. In October of 2nd year, after a competitive selection process, I was chosen to go to Boeing in Seattle working in the Mechanical Hydraulic Systems as part of the Landing Gear Systems team. My main work was on evaluating designs using the Kinematic Analysis software MSC Adams. I also created functional schematics and block diagrams, sized components and worked on design trade studies. It was fantastic to apply the analysis techniques we learn in college to real-life aeroplane design. My coop experience has brought a new level of understanding to my studies. It has helped me to gain valuable work skills in small teams as well as within a larger company. My colleagues were mostly experienced engineers who had worked on aeroplane programs from the original  777 to the 787 and 777x. They were all so generous with their time and sharing their knowledge, I learned so much from them. We attended tours of the factories on the Puget Sound as well as meet and greets with engineers from across Boeing.

 I ended up making so many great friends while on co-op. We would usually be climbing mountains, and always hosted Taco Tuesday partys. I’m very big into hiking so I was on the mountains surrounding Puget Sound almost every weekend with all the other interns, from all over the world. In addition to lots of travel within Washington state, I got to visit family in Michigan and fitted in a visit to the Henry Ford museum. I also went to New York to visit my friend from Boeing, getting to tour the sites (again) and got to see my favourite painting Van Gogh's "starry night". For Thanksgiving I got to experience the true holiday by spending it with a friend’s family in Idaho, and even ventured out to see the full Black Friday madness!

Hanna at Boeing in Seattle


There was so much to experience and never a quiet moment I am so grateful to have gotten the chance as a UL student.

In first year I ended up joining 5 clubs; Equestrian, Hockey, Outdoor Pursuits Club, Swimming, Kayak though that was a bit more than I could chew! So I ended up putting my time into Hockey, Swimming and OPC for the climbing wall. In my second year I ended up being the Lessons Officer for the Equestrian Club, organising weekly lessons and transport to them. I also completed in the tetrathlon that year. Since I came back from Coop I decided I wanted to learn how to defend myself a bit so I took up Krav Maga which I really enjoy, but to be honest, joining the army reserves this year has taken up all of my free time so I haven’t been as religious at going to it as I was when I started!

My only regret is that I can’t do it all again. Since returning to college, so many of the knowledge gaps have been filled, I feel I could do better job at my placement. However, co-op was of great benefit to my studies, which is the primary purpose after all! Last summer, I attended the European Space Agency Academy- ELEGRA anti-gravity research summer school in Belgium. With other students from across Europe, we attended lectures and completed projects on anti gravity research. Working with people from so many different countries and backgrounds was a new experience. It made me much more confident about applying for jobs across the EU.

Through clubs and societies, the Presidents Volunteer Award and Co-op, my time in UL has allowed me to develop teamwork and workplace skills alongside my academic learnings. UL has presented so many oppportunities to me that I know I could not have gotten anywhere else. I am so glad I chose UL, and I am really looking forward to completing my Masters degree here next year!