My name is Elaine Chambers and I’m a mechanical engineer with EDC. I’ve been with EDC since May 2021, and it’s been a great experience so far. I studied in Trinity college and have a master’s in mechanical and manufacturing engineering.
I chose engineering as it seemed to have endless possibilities and directions, any of which I was happy to proceed with. I came to be in the construction industry as it was of the few industries unaffected drastically by the pandemic, so they were still hiring and doing well. I’m quite happy with the path I’m on now and it’s pretty satisfying to know that I could go buy a ruin on the west coast and use my new knowledge to design my own little sustainable eco-home.
What was it that drew you to EDC?
I chose to join EDC while I was working with a contractor in Frankfurt. I had enjoyed being on-site and seeing everything fit together (or fixing things when they didn’t fit), but I wanted to get into a more technical and design-related role.
I thought EDC would be a good fit for me as it was a perfect size, not too big to get lost in, and not too small that they only had small projects. The variety of projects also interested me, as I could gain a more varied learning experience while working in a friendly environment and positive work culture.
What made it stick out to me was the diversity in the team and the work culture they seemed to have.
Both work-life balance and diversity are important to me and I felt EDC valued these also.
When I first joined the team, I was surprised by the ‘welcome’ calls and messages I got, and I felt immediately more comfortable settling in. Ever since it’s been going very well, and I have my new desk, chair and everything I need at home and get to enjoy hybrid working between the Dublin office and home.
Where do you see women in engineering now and in the future?
I chose a career in engineering because I was interested in the seemingly limitless opportunities and directions I could go in. I think I was quite lucky in college, as there was about 20% women in my class.
I’m excited for the day where engineering is far more gender-balanced and the construction industry a diverse and inclusive environment.
Currently, while there are fewer women engineers than men engineers in general, I think this is especially true in the construction industry. Issues in the workplaces based on gender can still be a problem, and I have witnessed some of these in the past, but it’s normally unintentional subconscious bias or behaviours. For example, in some companies, a woman being assertive or hardworking being described as bossy or ‘a lot’.
These issues will only be realized and dealt with by more women joining and pointing out these issues as they occur. While I can understand this may make the industry sound like an intimidating environment to join, I’ve really enjoyed my experiences so far.
I haven’t experienced these issues myself and I think most workplaces do make the effort to ensure these things don’t happen. Hence, I have high hopes for the industry and women engineers in future.
What is your day-to-day routine like?
I’m normally working on a few projects at once, which are generally residential. Right now, I’ve just been given my own housing project to be the mechanical lead on, so I’m excited to get started on that. I’ll mainly be creating layouts and schematics of the mechanical systems, such as heating, domestic water and ventilation, and partaking in design team meetings, ensuring everything is on track. I’ll also calculate all the requirements for equipment needed such as water tanks and heat pumps and contact suppliers to find what’s best suited to the job.
Alongside that project, I’ve also been working on a 199-unit residential project based in London with the London office due to start construction. Hopefully, now that restrictions are easing and I’ve had my first dose of the vaccine, I can start going for site visits and see my hard work come to life!
If you could do any project that your heart desired, what would be your ideal project?
If I had unlimited funds and freedom to do whatever I wanted, I would probably want to design something that is normally very energy-intensive or demanding of resources and try to redesign it to make it much more sustainable.
I’ve worked on a data centre project before and they use huge amounts of energy, especially for cooling. So, similar to what Google is doing with trying to make data centres in the sea, I think I would try to design one in space or have a pipe network into space for cooling or something, which would probably be wildly expensive but then wouldn’t have the risk of upsetting any surrounding habitats with excess heat and would be much easier to keep cool.
I think something like that, where I could test if there’s a better way to do something would be my ideal project.
BMOR North Main Street Student Accommodation Scheme.
Team Night Out
100 Bed Glanmire Nursing Home Scheme.
Stephen completed his 8-week placement with EDC in July 2021 and is continuing his studies in Mechanical Engineering at Trinity College Dublin.