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Engineering

Pharmaceutical, chemical and medical device technologies

Graduate careers in the growing areas of medical devices, pharmaceutical products and chemicals.

The pharmaceutical, chemical and medical device technologies sectors are a vital part of our economy. The Republic of Ireland remains a location of choice for international companies, and most of the top pharmaceutical organisations worldwide have operations here.

Every day, engineers play a vital part in the business of saving lives. They help to shape the health services through the products and processes they develop. Engineers work in many roles ranging from the research and development of new processes and products to the design, construction and management of industrial plants. Essentially they are engaged in the process of changing raw materials into finished products, often with lifesaving and health-enhancing consequences.

Where could I work?

Chemical and pharmaceutical

The chemicals industry develops and manufactures the chemicals we need in everyday life in a safe, environmentally friendly and economical way. It’s a diverse industry ranging from pharmaceuticals to biotechnology. Other companies in this sector produce finished products such as adhesives, sealants, paints, fertilisers and resins.

The pharmaceutical industry is about the discovery and manufacture of effective medicines and is a significant employment sector in ROI due to the large number of multinational companies based in the country. Many of the world’s top-selling drugs are produced in Ireland. Along with research and development, there are opportunities in process development and production management.

Engineers working in pharmaceuticals and chemicals can find themselves engaged in a wide range of activities, including:

  • Developing and implementing processes to produce drugs and medicines, food and drinks.
  • Producing new, cleaner fuels from natural resources.
  • Designing pollution prevention technologies to protect the environment and human health.
  • Research and development: collaborating with scientists and other disciplines in the design and implementation of new products and production techniques.
  • Design and construction of chemical and pharmaceutical plants from start to finish.
  • Consultancy: providing engineering services to manufacturing companies.
  • Manufacturing: working in production, troubleshooting and adapting and optimising production processes. Medical devices and medical technologies.

The Republic of Ireland is a globally established medical technology manufacturing location, with 300 medical technology companies employing over 29,000 people. The medical devices and healthcare sectors are fundamental to Ireland’s future as a leading producer and seller of high value exports. Ireland has the highest number of people in Europe, per capita, working in the medical technology sector, which is worth €30 billion in exports and €6 billion in imports to the Irish economy. The core work of an engineer in this field is the design and development of medical instruments and equipment. Products cover a broad range, including cardiac surgical implants, dialysis equipment, radiotherapy technologies and many more. Engineers working in the medical devices and technologies sector can be employed in many possible areas, including:

  • Biomaterials: researching appropriate materials for implantations in the human body, such as coronary stents, pacemakers and hip and knee replacements.
  • Biomechanics: applying mechanics to biological or medical problems to develop artificial human functions, such as artificial hearts and joint replacements.
  • Rehabilitation engineering: designing and developing prosthetics and assistive technologies to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities.
  • Clinical engineering: the determination and assessment of life cycles and capabilities of medical equipment technologies, through to their decommissioning and disposal.

As well as working with medical device manufacturers, engineers can also find career opportunities in other areas, such as:

  • Government: product testing and establishing safety standards for medical devices.
  • Hospitals: advising on the selection and application of medical equipment, performance testing and maintenance, and building special devices for specific healthcare and research needs.
  • Research centres: participating in direct research activities in collaboration with other researchers from medical and science backgrounds.