My name is Niamh Hickey and I am a 4th Year in the BSc Applied Physics programme.

I spent my co-operative placement as an intern with the Engineering Department of Ei Electronics in Shannon, Co. Clare. Ei Electronics is a market leader in fire and gas detection, designing and manufacturing alarms and sensors. From the start of my co-op experience, I was treated like a member of the team and given a very warm welcome. I had met a few members of the team previously when I received the inaugural ‘Ei Electronics Women in Engineering’ scholarship. This award formed the basis of my placement with the company.

Niamh Hickey awarded

Left: Certificate given to me by Ei Electronics in recognition of my receiving the inaugural Women In Engineering Scholarship. Top Right: Mick Guinee, CEO of Ei Electronics, presenting me with the certificate.  Bottom Right: Leanne Wright, Marketing Executive at Ei Electronics, Mick Guinee, CEO of Ei Electronics, Niamh Hickey, David Richardson, Senior Technologist at Ei Electronics.

On my first day, I was assigned my desk in the new Ei building, introduced to my fellow intern Shane and the members of the engineering department, and given a full tour of the factory. This included the manufacturing bays, moulding, storage and shipping, marketing, finance, test engineering, the CO (carbon monoxide) sensor-manufacturing site, the Centre of Excellence, and the engineering lab. I was also introduced to many members of the Ei team outside of my department. After this, I was brought up to speed on the products that Ei was working on.

One of these products was a new alarm that Ei plan on releasing to the market in the coming year . This is a multi-sensor alarm which can detect smoke, CO, and fire. I was involved with the project from late-stage design through to sending it off to BSI, a standards body in the UK that all Ei alarms must go to so they can be measured up against the standard.

I was also involved in a project called SpaceLINK, where Ei sent an alarm to inner space in a probe in July 2022. I contributed to the design of the probe, the testing of the equipment, the tracking of the alarm after it landed, and the data analysis. I will be continuing this project with Ei in conjunction with SOPHia, a University of Limerick physics outreach project. SOPHia will be running a competition (sponsored by Ei) for primary and secondary school students around the country. Students will be tasked with coming up with the best probe design to send into space. A space-themed poster competition will also be running.  The competition will take place from September 2022 to December 2022, with the winners announced in January 2023 and the probe launching during the Easter break.

My co-operative placement provided me with many opportunities for learning and development. I was given the opportunity to develop and apply my ICT skills, take courses in Python and receive my ICDL (International Computer Driving Licence). I also got the opportunity to represent Ei at Women in STEM events and careers events as well, which was a fantastic experience.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my co-operative experience with Ei. I loved every minute of it, and was quite sad to leave. I hold Ei in very high regard, and learnt so much on co-op. Everyone on the engineering team, and in the company, was very friendly and so generous with their time. They really helped me develop my professional skills. I would highly recommend the Ei Electronics’ co-op programme to any student looking for a placement or a job in the future.