Pharmaceutical, chemical and medical device technologies

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

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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

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
  • Manufacturing: working in
    production, troubleshooting and
    adapting and optimising
    production processes.
    Medical devices and medical

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
  • 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

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