Below is an interview with UL Graduate, Aisling Kelleher who completed the Chemical Engineering Graduate Diploma at the University of Limerick.
Aisling is currently employed as a Validation Engineer in the biopharmaceutical industry.
Q: Can you tell me a bit about yourself, your background, did you progress straight from your undergraduate degree to the graduate diploma?
A: I’m Aisling, from Limerick and am a member of the 2017 Chemical Engineering Graduate Diploma class. I initially studied Chemistry up in Dublin for my undergraduate degree and when I graduated in 2016 I had done some research and already knew I immediately wanted to enter into the Chemical Engineering Graduate Diploma in UL.
Q: Can you tell me about your interest in chemical engineering, is there any moment you can remember where you thought, yes, this is what I want to do?
A: I was in a laboratory for my Co-Op in a pharmaceutical plant. I loved the industry as a workplace and I knew I wanted to go into it straight after college, however what interested me more than the lab work was seeing how a drug was scaled up to be manufactured at large scale. I knew then that I didn’t necessarily only want to work in a lab environment and decided to go back to do chemical engineering.
Q: What skills did you develop throughout this course?
A: The course had a great blend of classroom and practical learning. The pilot plant laboratory in UL where we conducted our lab practicals is very reflective of what you’ll see in a large-scale manufacturing plant, so to get hands on experience of these processes during the course was very valuable knowledge to bring into the workforce.
Q: How did UL support you throughout your studies?
A: UL were very engaged right from my initial interest in the course through to graduating from it. Both the department and lecturers were always very willing to lend their time to answer any queries. We also did a group project where we had to design a manufacturing plant and each group had a lecturer designated to support us through conducting the project and advise on any queries. The computer lab had all the programmes we needed and also made for a great study and group project location.
Q: How do you feel this course benefited you in your current role?
A: I find having done the graduate diploma after a science undergrad certainly gave me an advantage by fact that I had the science background as well as engineering. Allows you to be able to look at work situations from multiple perspectives.
And in terms of soft skills, the group project certainly helped in working and navigating daily in team dynamics. We also had multiple opportunities to present at various stages in the group project which helped build upon presentation and communication.
Q: What are your future career plans?
A: I’m currently working as a validation engineer in the biopharmaceutical industry. This involves testing equipment to ensure it operates as designed. I hope to develop technically and support validation across the whole manufacturing lifecycle: drug process, utilities, equipment and cleaning cycles.
Q: Have you any advice for anyone thinking about choosing this course of study?
A: Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to use the lectures and tutorial time to your full advantage
Lastly, I would certainly recommend this course to anyone considering it as it gives you additional strings to your bow just as you start your career.
Find out more about the Graduate Diploma in Chemical Engineering here: https://www.ul.ie/gps/course/chemical-engineering-grad-dip