Tony McDonnell, Sustainability Engineer, JHA Consulting Engineers
Job title Sustainability Engineer
Employer JHA Consulting Engineers
EducationWaterford Institute of Technology (WIT), Sustainable Energy Engineering 2016
Tell us about your current job and what it involves day to day?
My role as a sustainability engineer involves producing whole building energy modeling through dynamic simulations and thermal models. We do this in order to optimize and validate energy performance, maximise occupancy comfort levels and analyse the effects of daylight and sunlight on both new developments and neighbouring properties using the IES VE software. I really enjoy the job as I get to work with a wide range of specialists including architects, engineers, contractors and developers. Working alongside these specialists, I design high end developments such as office buildings, hotels, data centres, industrial buildings and residential buildings.
How did you get your job and how did your degree help?
Personally, I found online platforms such as gradireland, and others, really helpful both during the job search and in securing this role. In terms of the application process, I really believe that my degree gave me a great advantage over other candidates as it is focused on sustainability in the built environment. Through its robust modules in energy modelling and sustainable energy design, it ensure that I was well capable of succeeding in the industry and allowed me to contribute to many projects with my company straight out of college.
What's the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your job?
The biggest challenge I have faced was when I attended my first meeting as an employee at company. I was nervous as I was out of my comfort zone but I thoroughly enjoyed rising to the challenge. Now, I find attending meetings and collaborating with the design team members is enjoyable.
What skills are in demand in your sector and how would you advise students to prepare?
I would advise students to ensure that they have a good knowledge base in sustainable design. For example they should be very knowledgeable in areas such as passive design, building fabric and environmental assessment like BREEAM and LEED.
I believe that students should not only be confident in their technical skills but also in their soft skills, in particular good communication and punctuality. This is something they can be working on while they are doing their studies and are often best developed in everyday life. It is also important to note that you learn something new every day in engineering, so don’t think you need to know everything. Instead be open to new challenges and think outside the box.