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David Deally

Structural engineer, Arup

Degree subject Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, Trinity College Dublin (2010)
Job title Structural Engineer
Employer Arup

I come from a family of engineers and I've always been interested in buildings. To begin with I was also drawn to architecture, but my technical strengths told me engineering was the way forward.

At college I jumped at the chance to undertake a thesis project under the guidance of Arup, a consulting engineering firm. My project was definitely a foot in the door, and I was called for interview after responding to their advert for new engineers. Ultimately though I think my year studying civil and structural engineering in Lyon gave me the edge: the experience of another culture set me apart.

Since starting with Arup I've being working on one, huge project: a hospital build in Vienna. It's great because I’ll be involved from start to finish. Now we're at the scheme design stage: I work closely with the architect and client to work out problems, for example we are aiming to minimise vibrations from technical equipment. I do lots of hand sketching and create 3D models to illustrate ideas for the client. At this stage I'm using SOFISTIKS – a specialised software package – to design beams, columns and flat slabs to meet specifications. Structural design links all types of engineering, so I have to keep up with the client's needs plus the other engineers' requirements. It can be stressful, but colleagues will give their spare time to help out if I'm stuck.

Irish structural engineering is undergoing change: we're switching from the British Code of Practice to the European version, which is tough at times because I have to apply a new way of thinking to my designs. This change is new to everyone, so experienced engineers and graduates alike take part in an EC2 course once a week to get used to the new processes.

The best thing about my job is getting to work with and learn from some of the industry's top people. The international dimension is also really enjoyable: I was keen to have a travel element in my job, and currently I'm taking a German course through the company so I’ll be prepared for future work trips to Vienna!

Job hunting tips

An eye-catching project or study abroad can give you the edge. Try asking smaller engineering companies for opportunities as well – any industry experience will support your applications.

David Deally was interviewed for gradireland Engineering 2012.