We are the engineers of possible: Limerick Mechanical Engr Co-Op Shares Experience
By Matthew Wharton
As part of my third-year study as a mechanical engineering student at the University of Limerick, I completed an eight-month co-op placement at BD RCI in Limerick. I had the great opportunity to work alongside a highly skilled team on a new product development project. My primary responsibility was designing mechanical systems and developing these systems through prototyping and testing.
To aid with these responsibilities, I utilized many RCI resources like SolidWorks for a visual representation when designing and the 3D printers and machine shop for creating parts for prototypes.
As a co-op student, problem-solving during the designs and prototypes has allowed me to gain valuable experience and knowledge while having a talented team around me to provide advice and support throughout this learning process.
The working environment at BD is quite enjoyable, and the daily atmosphere around the facility is very positive. There are all kinds of initiatives like sports and socials that are set up, which offer great opportunities to meet the wider BD team working on projects around the complex, as well as associates with similar interests and areas of expertise.
What I like most about being an engineer is the opportunity to solve problems and help find innovative solutions. Problem-solving also adds to my development as an engineer. Finding the root of problems and understanding the solution is valuable knowledge which can be utilised on future projects in the design stage to mitigate similar problems before they occur.
What I enjoy most about working in research and development is that it is unknown. There is no current solution to work off of, so it allows us to think outside the box and try things which may or may not work. BD has great facilities to aid with this, creating prototypes and developing them into high-quality devices to help improve patients' lives.
My co-op placement at BD has reassured me that I enjoy this field of work as an engineer and added to my inspiration to complete my current degree. I have seen the benefits of collaborating with BD teams globally, which has encouraged me to travel outside of Ireland after college to broaden my experiences and get to see the world a bit while I am at it.
A Day in Life
Usually my day would start with a brief catch up on emails and review of progress on tasks before our morning stand-up. This is a quick team update on progress, highlighting any blockages which might affect a task and describing the work I have planned to complete that day.
The rest of the day is filled with various tasks related to the project as well as project meetings. The typical tasks would focus around a certain area of the device, such as designing parts and mechanical systems, assembling prototypes, device testing, 3D printing test parts and making alterations to prototypes for new parts. Project meetings vary day-to-day but typically repeat on a weekly basis, ranging from mechanical, test, and design meetings to full team meetings which can be used to display hardware, discuss decisions and planning for the project.