At University College Dublin, engineers think bigger. From running crucial environmental tests on Ireland’s first satellite to improving the smart control of air pollution in Europe and predicting and stopping the flow of fire through buildings, they are exploring life’s possibilities and meeting global challenges.
For engineers seeking to shape a better future, it’s hard to find a better place than UCD. It is one of the top-ranked universities in the country and ranks in the top 1% of higher education institutions worldwide.
The campus for “Ireland’s global university” is home to around 30,000 students, 8,500 of whom come from abroad. Over at the UCD College of Engineering and Architecture, there are over 320 staff and almost 2,200 students, including 626 international students.
There are six Schools in the College, covering the Engineering disciplines of Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Electronic, Biosystems, Food, Mechanical and Materials Engineering, together with Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy.
It’s a space ripe for cutting-edge discipline-specific and interdisciplinary teaching and research. “We continue to develop a happy, inquisitive, and supportive environment in teaching and learning to maximise the potential of the student, while imparting disciplinary rigour and interdisciplinary flexibility,” shares associate professor Vikram Pakrashi. “Our teaching is suited to contemporary needs, while preparing for unknown changes in future.”
In short, students receive a world-class engineering education at UCD. Below, we take a closer look at the features of UCD’s College of Engineering and Architecture that make this possible:
1. World-leading research in classrooms
At UCD, research activity is substantial, with global recognition in a number of areas including: Energy, Food, Transport, Bioprocess and Pharmaceutical Engineering, Water, Biomedical Engineering, Materials, Advanced Manufacturing, Internet of Things, and The Built Environment — all of which are fed back to UCD’s engineering classrooms and labs.
Professor Madeleine Lowery’s favourite aspects of the neural engineering module that she teaches are the journal clubs, where students work in groups to discuss and analyse recent research papers on topics relevant to the course.
These interactive lessons “help to bring together aspects of the theory that we cover during lectures and highlight exciting developments in the field,” explains Professor Lowery, who is the programme director for the BE and ME programmes in Biomedical Engineering at UCD. “It allows students to see how the theory underpins the applications and provides insight into current challenges and future directions for the field.”
2. Experiential learning opportunities
In Assistant Professor Jennifer Keenahan’s Engineering and Architecture of Structures classes, both engineering and architecture students work side by side in model-making in maker-spaces to create a physical model of the structural scheme design of their projects. “Typically the engineers are never involved in the aesthetic considerations, and this activity brings them into this conversation with the architects,” she explains.
Her favourite lesson, however, is the workshops helmed by expert professionals. During these consultations, professional practising engineers and architects support students in their learning and assessments.
“The expert, professional practicing engineers are invited to give feedback on the structural scheme design while the expert architects are invited to comment on the proposed development of the design,” shares Professor Keenahan. “Students are expected to have a draft structural scheme prepared for presentation and discussion with experts, as well as some key questions they would like feedback and guidance on. Afterwards, students make notes on the feedback they received and how they might take this on board for their final design.”
Such experiential learning opportunities are impactful. At UCD, they nurture students into job-ready graduates — UCD is ranked number one in Ireland for graduate employability, and 87th in the world (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022).
Look at the CVs of graduates and their holistic skillset is obvious. Students stand to gain a large range of technical, analytical and soft skills. This includes “computer programming, design, signal analysis, mechanics and electronics, with the option to specialise in either the biomechanical or bioelectronic field,” explains Professor Lowery. “They also develop a broad range of soft skills including communication and presentation skills, and a knowledge of the relevant regulatory environment.”
Picture a huge, spacious campus with lakes, woodland walks and wildlife close to Dublin’s city centre. A Student Centre with an Olympic-size swimming pool, a health and fitness centre, a cinema, and much more. Verdant landscapes interspersed with state-of-the-art buildings, and public art. 24-hour security.
That’s the UCD campus. Little wonder why students love it — and for engineering students, there are more perks: cutting-edge facilities.
“Students have access to a wide range of technical facilities across the engineering college, varying from electronics laboratories to mechanical testing laboratories, depending on the modules that they study,” explains Professor Lowery. “Biomedical Engineering students also take part in anatomy laboratories as part of the module Basic Medical Sciences for Engineers, which is taught by the School of Medicine”
Such facilities allow students to evolve into tomorrow’s experts. “The students get access to recorded lectures with live delivery, uploaded videos and related explanations, live interaction, data, experiments, sensors and case studies,” adds Associate Professor Pakrashi.
More importantly, however, is how these facilities realise the fundamental goal to “encourage deep thinking and interpretation, which will make them problem-solvers of the future,” he adds. “They interact with complex and real contemporary problems, along with traditional, rigorous training which gives them a wide range of tools to tackle the problems with. The students quickly understand the importance of assimilating the learning, rather than only strategising for examinations.”
If you’re interested in starting your journey at UCD College of Engineering & Architecture, click here.