STEPS Engineers Week at DCU
Video Interview: Biomedical Engineer Tanya Levingstone
Video: Biomedical Engineer Tanya Levingstone

Interview with Dr Tanya Levingstone

Dr Tanya Levingstone is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at DCU. In this video she explains what Biomedical Engineering is and why she choose to explore a career in this sector.

Find out more about the BEng in Biomedical Engineering at DCU: https://www.dcu.ie/DC197

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What is Mechatronic Engineering?
Mechatronic Engineering

Mechatronic Engineering 

Mechatronic Engineering (or Mechatronics for short) is one of our most popular engineering courses in DCU. But what does Mechatronic Engineering really mean? Watch our video to find out more.

#MechatronicEngineering 

Mechanical and and Sustainability Engineering
Mechanical and and Sustainability Engineering

Mechanical and and Sustainability Engineering

Do you have a passion for the environment? Planet earth is facing tough new challenges. Engineers have an important role to play in developing solutions to these problems and making our world more sustainable.

We have developed an exciting new course in DCU, the BEng in Mechanical and Sustainability Engineering, to prepare graduates to meet the changing world of sustainability and the growing global challenge of transitioning to zero carbon. It's suitable for individuals who have an interest in energy, who care about the environment, and who want to contribute to saving our planet.

Find out more: https://www.dcu.ie/DC194

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Interview with Head of School, Dr Brian Corcoran
Interview with Head of School, Dr Brian Corcoran

Interview with Head of School of Mechanical Engineering, Dr Brian Corcoran

What do you consider to be the most rewarding aspect of a career in engineering?

Engineering is a rewarding profession and one that comes with a certain prestige and sense of accomplishment. It offers a sense of challenge and excellent job security to those who decide on a career in engineering. The field is so broad that you can work almost anywhere in the world with nearly any organisation. Some of the fields of engineering include Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Renewable Energy Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Electronic and Computing Engineering.

The prospects for a fulfilling career in engineering are endless. Engineering skills are readily transferable from one industry to another and every country needs more engineers.

What is your primary area of research?

My area of research is High Purity Water Systems for Pharmaceutical, Semiconductor and Food/Beverage Industries. These are multi-million Euro systems, built from high-quality Stainless Steel. They use high end purification technology, including Reverse Osmosis and Continuous Deionisation systems, to bring drinking water to Ultra Pure or Water for Injection quality. This water is then used in the manufacture of drug products and intravenous drips or in the manufacture of food and beverage products.

What sparked your interest in this area of research?

I became interested in this area of research while working as a Consultant Engineer in the Pharmaceutical and Semiconductor Industries. I identified problems with these expensive systems related to ‘Stagnant Water’ in areas of the Stainless Steel pipe networks. This stagnant water allows bacteria to grow and this bacteria is a major contaminant within what should be a high purity water system. This contamination results in loss of production, shut down of the plant and costly cleaning of the entire water and production system.

My research applies Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to model and analyse pipe networks, identifying areas of stagnation. This analysis is used to redesign pipes, valves and fitting in the network and to eliminate stagnant areas. This work saves companies millions of euros each year in lost production and cleaning expenses.

What advice would you give to someone about to embark on a career in your field?

A career in engineering can help prevent disease, tackle poverty, help address global warming and solve some of the biggest global challenges of our time.

If you want to pursue a career in engineering, start by finding an area that interests you. This may be something related to climate change or other challenges facing humanity. Read about some of the exciting, new technologies that are being deployed to solve these challenges and the engineers behind these solutions.

After you find an area that interests you, you can search for an engineering course that will help you get a career in this area. An engineering degree will help grow your skills in creative thinking and teamwork, offers excellent career opportunities and high graduate salaries. You can work anywhere in the world with an engineering degree. Engineering is a great career!

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DCU Engineering
DCU Engineering Lab Tour

DCU Engineering Labs

In this video, fourth year Mechatronic Engineering student Faith Dempsey, takes viewers on a tour of the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing and School of Electronic Engineering labs at DCU. Our labs are purpose built and designed with the latest equipment and instruments to foster excellence in teaching and research.

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Sustainability Webinar: From H2 to H2O
Sustainability Webinar: From H2 to H2O

Sustainability: From H2 to H2O

Are you interested in saving the planet and building a more sustainable future? At this virtual STEPS Engineers Week event​ we explored climate change and some of the cutting-edge sustainability work DCU engineers are carrying out.

Find out more about our BEng in Sustainable Systems and Energy at DCU: https://www.dcu.ie/DC194

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Common Entry into Engineering at DCU
Common Entry into Engineering at DCU

Common Entry into Engineering at DCU

Engineers invent and design things, they make things work and analyse and solve problems, often using mathematical and software tools. Their impact on the world is pervasive and often pioneering.

Engineering solutions help patients with enhanced diagnostic imaging, improved hearing devices, better blood vessel implants and laser surgery. Engineering solutions continue to improve the way we live, driving advances in digital technology, such as Smart Cities, that have the possibility of revolutionising how we interact with technology, while at the same time improving sustainability through advances in areas such as green energy technologies.

If you’re interested in engineering, but haven’t yet made a choice between courses, Common Entry into Engineering at DCU helps you to choose a speciality while learning the fundamentals of engineering. Find out more at: www.dcu.ie/DC200

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Electronic and Computer Engineering
Electronic and Computer Engineering

Electronic and Computer Engineering at DCU

The world is more connected than ever before, and that’s only going to grow. It's no longer just computers and smartphones that are digitally connected. From fridges to TVs, alarms to mirrors, more and more devices are finding their way online. 

Electronic and computer engineers create and innovate to invent, design, improve and build products and technologies that really matter in people’s lives. Watch our video to find out more about Electronic and Computer Engineering at DCU: https://www.dcu.ie/DC190

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Interview with Dr Éadaoin Carthy
Interview with Dr Éadaoin Carthy

Interview with Dr Éadaoin Carthy, School of Mechanical Engineering

What do you consider to be the most rewarding aspect of a career in engineering?

A career in Engineering is so much more than the “design, build, test” model that most people consider it to be. Engineers are creative thinkers, problem solvers, team players and fantastic communicators. It’s no shock that they are highly sought after for a diverse range of jobs. They are innovators who make tangible changes to society.

Today, climate change is one of the biggest challenges we are facing. Our reliance on fossil fuels has led to rising CO2 levels which is having a catastrophic effect on our planet. This challenge is being met head-on, with engineers designing and creating renewable energy sourcing technology such as off-shore wind farms and more efficient electric vehicles. Looking into the future, technology such as the Hyperloop is being developed which has massive potential to reduce air travel. It should come as no surprise that some of the biggest CEOs in the world have a background in Engineering.

A degree in Engineering offers amazing opportunities to travel because it’s a globally recognised qualification. It’s a highly collaborative and social industry which offers the opportunity to contribute significantly to civilisation. An engineering degree is a passport to incredible opportunities around the world, often where you might least expect it.

What is your primary area of research?

My research is in the area of centrifugal microfluidics. This includes design, integration and automation of bioanalytical methods for rapid sample to answer systems. Microfluidic platforms are an exciting area because they have huge applications in a large variety of sectors, including healthcare, agriculture and food safety. This is an area of research with the ability to have a huge impact on society. Centrifugal microfluidics is a really exciting area to work in, not only because they can automate assays, but they can be tested on portable instruments which makes them a robust, bioanalytical system for on-site, rapid detection.

What sparked your interest in this area of research?
My initial interest was sparked by my third year microfluidics labs I took as an undergraduate student here in DCU. I was fascinated by the prospect of creating a 3D model on CAD and being able to create physical microfluidic platforms using the available manufacturing processes, such as laser ablation and UV lithography. This was the first time I stepped foot into a lab where I could carry out experimental design from start to finish and apply critical thinking to analyse data and reiterate experiment protocols. Here, I was introduced to many talented Postdoctoral Researchers working on projects such as HIV therapy monitoring. To think that I could be a part of such amazing work was really exciting.

I have since gotten the opportunity to work on a variety of diverse projects, including plant pathogen and rapid E-coli detection, an automated Covid-19 device and qPCR platforms and instrumentation.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about pursuing a career in engineering?

I highly recommend Engineering as a career path for anyone who likes to be challenged and wants to make an impact. Whether it’s Mechanical, Biomedical, Electronic or Sustainable Engineering you are interested in, the career opportunities are endless.

DCU now offers a new course in Mechanical and Sustainable Engineering which offers students the opportunity to balance theory and practice and conduct many projects looking at tackling issues related to sustainable development goals, all whilst gaining skills as a Mechanical Engineer. I would advise prospective students to attend our Open Days and to come and speak to the Academic and Research staff to learn more about how we can help you achieve your goal of becoming a highly-skilled Engineer. You can also contact us directly in the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering if you have any further questions.

Find out more here: https://www.dcu.ie/DC194

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DCU Engineering Alumna Aoife Lynch
Combining Sport with Engineering: Aoife Lynch

DCU Mechatronics Alumna Aoife Lynch

Aoife Lynch, who was part of the Irish team that brought home a silver medal at the World Athletics relays in 2021, says she would “absolutely” recommend DCU.

In February 2021, Aoife graduated with a BEng in Mechatronic Engineering. Athlete Aoife Lynch said the college is “constantly adding new course options to the list and produce the most employable graduates in the country due to the INTRA integrated work experience programme.”

Having secured a sports scholarship, she said, “if you enjoy sport, it's also one of the leading Irish universities across a variety of categories and elite levels.”

Aoife, from Castleknock, Dublin, decided to study engineering as it was one of the broader STEM courses offered in Ireland and, “I had seen how much opportunity there is for women entering a STEM-related degree. I chose DCU due to their dedication and success in track & field, and the club's success at National level.”

She was awarded a Sports Scholarship in first year which helped with funding for fees and travel to races. She chose not to live on campus given her proximity to home. She said, “I actually found the transition from school to college very difficult in terms of balancing academics with sport, due to the demanding nature of the course. I found it really difficult to juggle everything, athletics, and academics, so it took me some time to get back up to the level I had hoped to carry in from school success.”

She credited the support received from Paul Byrne, the head of DCU Athletics, saying, “he really checks in with everyone on an individual basis. We had individual meetings at the start of each semester to check everybody was settling back into college life and training was going well. He was a massive part of keeping myself feeling included in DCU athletics when I wasn’t on campus all the time, it was a big help.”

Before her exams in 2021, she flew to Poland with fellow Alumni Sophie Becker. They were in action for Ireland at the World Athletics Relays in Poland and “I ran the race and (we) came second. It was mind-blowing.” Like other students, her entire final year was done remotely but she said, “I adapted really well to the routine of studying and working from home, and it balanced extremely well with my ability to train in the mornings/mid-day rather than after a long day of college.”

“It was unusual visiting an empty campus once or twice throughout the year, but I've since been able to stay in touch with all my college friends since restrictions have eased.” Aoife is working as an IT Consultant for a software company Azyra, “who kindly sponsored my final year project and subsequently invited me to work with them after final year. I love the job that I'm in and they're extremely encouraging and understanding of my sporting pursuits.”

Reflecting on her time with DCU she said, “I couldn’t have asked for any more from my personal dealings with the college and the Athletics club, I came out of college feeling ready to tackle full-time college and life.”

Video Interview: Dr Anne Morrissey
Video Interview: Dr Anne Morrissey

Interview with Dr Anne Morrissey

Dr Anne Morrisey's teaching encourages students to be creative, and it inspires them to be the best they can be and it also shows them that success comes from consistent hard work. The aim is to make the transition to college as smooth as possible for students.

#STEMinDCU

Interview with Dr Reihaneh Aghamolaei
Interview with Dr Reihaneh Aghamolaei

Interview with Dr Reihaneh Aghamolaei, School of Mechanical Engineering

What is your primary area of research?

My research is in the area of sustainability and mechanical engineering. My main focus is on the multi-objective optimisation of building performance to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gases emission while maintaining the comfort and health conditions of building occupants. This requires developing sustainable strategies to enhance the application of renewable and green technologies, as well as designing smart energy systems. 

How did you become interested in this area of engineering?

My research has always been motivated by the goal of achieving positive impacts for our environment. Built environment accounts for a significant portion of global CO2 emissions and energy consumption. Improving a building’s performance, to mitigate their adverse environmental impacts by implementing renewable and green technologies, is a hugely important research area.

Sustainability as a multi-disciplinary and emerging field of engineering has massive potential to save the planet for future generations. Studying and working in the field of sustainability, in the context of mechanical engineering, is an interesting and rewarding area.

What do you consider to be the most rewarding aspect of a career in engineering?

Engineering offers great opportunities in terms of being able to work in countries around the world and in a wide variety of industries. 

Engineering plays a paramount role in solving complicated real-world challenges. Sustainability engineering is a particularly rewarding career as it facilitates transitioning to zero carbon, one of the biggest challenges faced by humanity. Our planet is in dire need of solutions for the environmental challenges we face and many of those solutions will be rooted in sustainability mechanical engineering.

What advice would you give to someone interested in working in this field that you wish someone had given you when you were starting out?

As someone who has studied and worked in the field of sustainability engineering, I would highly recommend a career in engineering to anyone who likes problem-solving, teamwork and critical thinking. 

As sustainability is an emerging and fast-growing field, more and more top companies all around the world are incorporating sustainability engineering jobs. If you care deeply about the environment then our new course, the BEng in Mechanical and Sustainability Engineering at DCU, is the course for you. Graduates of this course have diverse and highly rewarding career opportunities. 

Find out more here: https://www.dcu.ie/DC194

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Computer engineering graduate wins Chancellars Medal
Engineering student wins wins Chancellor’s Medal

Bartłomiej Baran wins prestigious Chancellor’s Medal

Dublin City University’s prestigious Chancellor’s Medal was awarded in February to Bartłomiej Baran in recognition of his extraordinary academic achievements and engagement in student life during his studies at DCU. 

The award was presented at a graduation ceremony, at which Bartłomiej graduated with a first-class honours degree in Electronic and Computer Engineering with a major in Systems and Devices. 

Bartek distinguished himself academically during his time at DCU, receiving the top mark in his class group during each of his four years of study and his extraordinary academic performance led to a number of awards, specifically a DCU Academic Scholarship in 2018 and Intel Academic Scholarships in 2019 and 2020.

In a citation delivered at the ceremony, Jennifer Bruton, Executive Dean, DCU Faculty of Computing and Engineering, said: 

“All of these achievements on their own are exceptional but when looked at in the context of the extracurricular activities undertaken by Bartek, it is hard to comprehend how he managed to maintain such an incredibly high level of academic performance.”

Bartek’s extracurricular activities generally revolved around promoting engineering and encouraging his fellow students to participate in noteworthy engineering projects, with many extending beyond DCU and into the community.

“For example, he collaborated with a Trinity College student to create an app called Parella that met a need they spotted in relation to the relaxation of COVID restrictions. Parella enables restaurants to make their food menu accessible on any mobile device, eliminating the need for handling shared menus and thus improving customer safety. This app is currently deployed in a number of restaurants in Ireland and Spain.”

Bartek’s most notable extracurricular endeavour related to his involvement in the Éirloop team. As co-founder and team lead, Bartek was heavily involved in student recruitment, helping to grow the membership to over 50 students from seven universities in the first year.

“This multidisciplinary team of Irish university students was originally created to compete in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition in Hawthorne, California during the summer of 2018. With Bartek as team lead, the Éirloop team raised a staggering €60,000 in cash and secured another estimated €65,000 in cash equivalents and they ultimately went on to finish in a very impressive 5th place in the face of very tough competition from over 700 initial entrants. In addition to finishing 5th, they were also given one of only three special awards for innovation.” 

“It is clear from his endeavours that Bartek is drawn to team projects that have some kind of societal benefit. Whether it’s improving the wellbeing of patients, helping visually impaired people safely navigate their way, making restaurants safer as we reopen from lockdown or investigating next generation transportation systems, Bartek has the skills required to work individually or through a team he has assembled, to successfully meet any challenge that is put to him, while at the same time selflessly helping those he works with to achieve their full potential.”

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Eamon Kilheaney (Left), Eric Redmond (Centre) and CEO of Writech Ted Wright (right)
DCU Students win Engineers Ireland prize

DCU Mechatronic Engineering Students win the Best Applied Student Engineering Projects Competition 2021

In November, a combined Engineers Ireland Mechanical & Manufacturing Division and Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Republic of Ireland Committee held the final of their third annual Applied Student Engineering Project competition.

The competition’s aim was to recognise the professional approach of students when undertaking complex projects with real-world applications, whilst also raising awareness of the expectations upon professional engineers and the opportunities offered by the two institutions.

Taking first place in the 2021 competition were two 4th year DCU Mechatronic Engineering students, Eric Redmond and Eamon Kilheany.

During their project, Eric and Eamon developed a revolutionary new way of safely pressure testing closed piping systems, which are primarily designed to test fire sprinkler systems up to a pressure of 16 bar. This new testing device is connected directly to the cloud, recording pressure fluctuations continually while automatically pressure testing a system to a prescribed standard. The system has a touchscreen user interface that is used to electronically fill out information about the test, monitor the pressure while testing, and accept a sign-off signature on completion, making the process more efficient and cutting down on paperwork. There is also a screen that allows the user to calibrate the pressure transducer. This is to ensure that the correct pressure reading is being taken and that the system is being kept up to date in compliance with stringent ISO standard requirements for the pressure testing of fire sprinkler systems. During a test, pressure drops are monitored and will automatically and instantly release the pressure safely if a rupture or large leak is identified. This new technology represents a positive development and is a game-changer in the industry of pressurised pipe fabrication and installation.

All winners of the Best Student Applied Engineering Projects received a cash prize, with a maximum of €500 for 1st place in each category,  an opportunity for a placement within I-Form, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and a certificate. Overall winners in both the postgraduate and undergraduate categories also received a medal which was  custom designed and manufactured by I-Form.

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Synthetic tendon project gets €1m funding
Synthetic tendon project gets €1m funding

Engineers secure €1 million grant to develop synthetic tendon and ligament implants modelled on embryonic tendons

Researchers at DCU, led by Professor Nicholas Dunne, Professor of Biomaterials Engineering, are part of an international team of scientists and engineers that will develop synthetic tendon and ligament implants modeled on embryonic tendons with a newly secured grant of approximately €1 million.

Torn ligaments and tendon ruptures are a major headache for athletes and runners. They are difficult to heal and often require months or years of rehabilitation. Currently, the only fix for severe tears is to remove soft tissue from another part of the patient’s body or corpse and use them to repair the knee or ankle. This is costly and inefficient, but the medical sector has yet to come up with a better solution.

This international team, with expertise in developmental biology, biomedical engineering and nanoscience, is made up of scientists and engineers from Dublin City University, Trinity College Dublin, Queen’s University of Belfast and Penn State University, hopes to change that after securing the €1 million on funding to support a four-year project.

The team will develop genetically engineered soft tissue that models how tendons develop in the embryo and attempt to improve the production of artificial tendon and ligament replacements by replicating the molecular events that drive embryonic tendon development. They will use nanoparticle delivery and mechanical stimulation of cells grown as “mini tendons” in culture to do this.

To better understand the embryonic development of tendons and ligaments, Professor Paula Murphy, Professor in Zoology at Trinity College Dublin, will investigate normal tendon development in chick and mouse embryos, and establish gene editing approaches to alter how tendon cells communicate with each other and their environment.

This will test which molecular pathways are essential for the formation of mature tendons. Professor Spencer Szczesny, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Penn State University, will measure the tendons of chicks and mice at different points of development and will map out the mechanical, structural and biological features at each stage.

In another key element of the project, Professor Nicholas Dunne, Professor of Biomaterials Engineering, Director of Biodesign Europe and the Executive Director of the Medical Engineering Research Centre Engineering (MedEng) at Dublin City University, Professor Helen McCarthy, Professor of Nanomedicine at the Queen's University of Belfast and Dr Niamh Buckley, Senior Lecturer in Personalised Medicine and Pharmacogenomics at the Queen's University of Belfast, will design a nanoparticle-hydrogel gene delivery system to influence tendon growth, which will essentially “tell” cells to turn certain genes on or off; these genes will have been discovered from the embryonic study. It is hypothesized the nanoparticle-hydrogel gene delivery system will mimic the embryonic process by pushing stem cells to release neighbouring cells and bind instead to collagen fibres. If they are successful, the international team of researchers will test the functionality of their new tendon construct in an animal model.

Professor Nicholas Dunne said:

“This cutting-edge project is truly interdisciplinary, bringing together international expertise in biomechanics, mechanobiology, developmental biology and materials science. We are very excited about developing functional load-bearing tendon replacements using a bottom-up approach to identify the structural changes and biological mechanisms that drive normal embryonic tendon development and to use this knowledge to enhance the maturation of tissue-engineered tendon constructs via nanoparticle gene delivery.”

The research is funded by the National Science Foundation (USA), Science Foundation Ireland and the Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland) through the US-Ireland R&D Partnership Programme.

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DCU engineering students receive Intel Scholarships
DCU engineering students receive Intel Scholarships

22 DCU engineering students receive Intel Masters awards

Intel Ireland has announced the recipients of its Masters scholarships and undergraduate awards. This is the latest round of the programme, which first began in 2018.

The programme forms part of an ongoing strategic partnership between Intel and DCU which was further strengthened following the signing of a memorandum of understanding by the head of Intel’s Irish operations, Eamonn Sinnott, and the former President of DCU, Professor Brian MacCraith, in 2017.

As part of the programme the DCU students selected to receive Masters scholarships will receive a monetary grant as well as ongoing support and mentor provision by Intel. The eligible students for these scholarships are each studying Masters programmes in Electronic and Computer Engineering or Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering.

The scholarship programme provides each participant with €3000 to support their academic studies and also ensures that students have the opportunity to experience practical learning which is aligned to the needs of industry. The provision of employee mentors by Intel provides students with a direct relationship to the world of work.

The students receiving undergraduate awards each receive a monetary prize of €500. The award recipients are selected based on academic achievement and this year and these achievements were assessed at both a group and individual level. Along with four students who were awarded based on individual achievements, 3 group projects were awarded for their outstanding work. The three group projects recognised were for work on an autonomous car, mobile robotics and a fireman project.

The presentations were made at a virtual ceremony by DCU President, Professor Daire Keogh and Eamonn Sinnott, Vice President and General Manager of Intel Ireland, who both underpinned the importance of investing in programmes such as this in order to ensure that Ireland continues to produce exceptionally talented graduates.

DCU President, Professor Daire Keogh, said: “These are significant awards that recognise the huge talent of our students, and also offer them wonderful opportunities. For DCU, this level of support for our engineering students is unparalleled and very much valued. 

Across DCU, mentorship has proven to be a game-changer for our students. It’s part of the transformative student experience we offer. In partnership with great companies like Intel, our students get the chance to engage with industry professionals ‘at the coalface’. It helps students to build networks in their chosen sector, and gives them a champion ‘on the inside’ who can support and advise them as they set out on their career path.”

Intel Ireland General Manager Eamonn Sinnott added: “I would like to congratulate each of our new DCU scholars and to wish them every success. As students of the university you will have the benefit of a world class education, and through these scholarships, we hope to further enhance your experience by sharing a unique insight into the world of work and leading-edge technology. We look forward to working together with each of you as your academic journey unfolds”.

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Interview with Dr Noel Murphy DCU
Interview with Head of School, Dr Noel Murphy

Interview with Head of School of Electronic Engineering, Dr Noel Murphy

What is your primary area of research?

I have a broad set of research interests, but the most enduring one is my interest in understanding in Information Theory terms how the human visual system can develop and operate. The cortex of the brain is a structure with distinct layers of neurons, with connections between these layers within each area of the brain and between different areas. Now, there simply isn’t enough data in a human genome to specify the billions of connections between neurons in the brain, and indeed the immature brain has many more connections than survive in the brain of an adult human, so something about the operation of the brain as it is exposed to the world and matures seems to determine which connections are retained and strengthen and which ones disappear. In the early visual system in particular, there seems to be stages of development as axons of neurons first grow from the eye to the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN), then to area V1 of the visual cortex (at the back of the brain), and on to areas V2/V3. To my mind it has to be something about the signals carried by the axons of these neurons that determines, or triggers or moulds the development of each set of connections. This is the realm of Information Theory - understanding the relationships between signals and the information carried by them - and that is the domain of an electronic engineer. 

What sparked your interest in this area of research?

I started working in Computer Vision in DCU after completing my primary degree in Theoretical Physics. After a while I became disenchanted with the ad hoc approach taken by then research in Computer Vision and I started reading about biological vision - in particular the philosophy of perception and the neuroscience of vision in animals and humans. The former led me to the work of two Chilean biologists, Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, whose insight into the nature of the living organism is very deep and intellectually coherent. The latter led me to the mathematical models of biological neural circuits, particularly in the visual system, of Stephen Grossberg and his colleagues in Boston University. Built up over a 40-year career, often outside the mainstream community of artificial neural network researchers, the ideas of Grossberg are the only ones that have convinced me as being close to an actual explanation of the incredibly complex operation of the human cortex, and particularly of illusory phenomena that we can literally see with our own eyes. I think our mathematical, engineering and computer technologies are still a long way away from allowing us to put much of Grossberg’s work to practical use, but I’m absolutely convinced that he is thinking about these problems in the correct way. I just wish that I had more time to work on these ideas.

What do you consider to be the most rewarding aspect of a career in engineering?

I love teaching at Third Level. I don’t claim to be brilliant at it but I love the process of reading into an area – understanding its foundations, scope and key concepts, structuring the ideas and then presenting the understanding that I have gained to anyone who will listen, usually my captive audience of engineering students! I often say to my PhD students and to my colleagues, if you want to really learn something, offer to teach it. You can’t escape with an imperfect understanding when there’s a class full of clever students trying to make your understanding their own. 

Engineering is not about any specific technology. Engineering is a way of thinking about the world – a way of organising and systematizing it so that we can exert our will over it, and hopefully make it a better, more comfortable place. I would often say that engineers use mathematical tools to solve problems, but even that is not the whole story: the mathematics involved is only a vehicle or a tool to be used – albeit an incredibly powerful one. About 10 years ago I did an MSc in Pure Maths (part-time) because I wanted to equip myself with better tools and that was an incredible experience. Pure Maths is not really intended for the applied world of the engineer, but it’s always only a matter of time before a clever engineer finds a way of turning some abstract object to a use for which it was never intended.

What other hobbies do you have outside of Engineering?

My main hobby is aviation. I have a pilot’s licence. I’m building a two-seat Vans RV-8 airplane at home, and I was involved in the development of the DCU BSc in Aviation Management over a decade ago. I teach on to the first, second and fourth year of that programme (as well as my engineering subjects of Electromechanical Systems, and Bioelectronics). To me this is like being paid to spend time talking about my hobby. Even there, I bring the mentality of the engineer: how can I describe, understand, model and predict the operation of the human, technological, or aviation systems at which I am looking. 

What advice would you give to someone about to embark on studying Engineering?

You probably already like maths. You don’t have to be a genius at it, just reasonably comfortable with handling mathematical ideas. If you’re at second level you might have come across software and programming, and perhaps embedded microcontrollers like the Arduino. These things are close to Computer Engineering. You most likely will not really have come across the ideas that are central to Electronic Engineering. These are the ideas of vectors and differential equations that are treated in Applied Maths at Leaving Cert, which not a lot of students have access to or take. So it can be quite hard to get a real sense what Electronic Engineering is about, but it’s an intellectually very satisfying and very powerful set of topics with very broad application. 

My first electronics book was the Ladybird book on how to build your own transistor radio. I guess that was the equivalent of the Maker Culture of more recent times. So if you want to see what electronic engineering is about, get a book like Make Electronics, or watch my colleague Derek Molloy’s YouTube video channel, or read into the All About Circuits webpage. There’s an incredibly interesting world waiting for you to explore. How you can use that to make the world a better place is only down to your imagination.

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James Carton at Dublin Hydrogen bus launch
Dublin Hydrogen bus trial

Hydrogen Bus trial in Dublin ends successfully with 3,000km covered

Hydrogen Mobility Ireland (HMI), managed a multi week, in-service, trial of Caetano H2.CityGold in the Dublin area. The Hydrogen Mobility Ireland project is a partnership of businesses from across many sectors, together with public sector and academic stakeholders, with all-Island cooperation, joining together to deliver a coordinated approach to the introduction of this cutting-edge technology to ensure that Ireland can benefit from being an early starter in this environmental transport solution.

The H2.CityGold powered by a Toyota fuel cell stack, was the first-ever Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) put into public service operation on the Island of Ireland giving real in-use information about the potential for large scale introduction of this technology in Ireland, in everyday driving conditions and at a challenging time of the year in terms of weather.

Since November the vehicle was operated in different routes by CIÉ Group bus companies, Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus as well as by Dublin City University (DCU) and Dublin Airport, although carrying limited passengers’ due to Covid’s current restrictions. Covering a total of 3000 kilometres (around 1864 miles) with a hydrogen consumption 5kg/100km based on actual operational conditions with passengers and heating, the Caetano H2.CityGold was refilled with green hydrogen (H2) produced in Dublin by BOC Gases Ireland Ltd using renewable electricity and water.

“CaetanoBus was very honoured to support Ireland’s first hydrogen fuel cell bus trial with its H2.CityGold. Being part of this project, showing the capability of our hydrogen bus solution in real operation and supporting Ireland, is a significant step to prove that our H2.CityGold will be the solution to achieve decarbonisation without any compromise of bus service and passenger comfort.” said Kohei Umeno, Chief Commercial Officer at CaetanoBus.

“I am delighted that Dublin Bus participated in Ireland’s first hydrogen bus trial. This trial will give Dublin Bus valuable insights into an important carbon cutting technology. Hydrogen will play a really important role in the journey towards an even more low emission public transport fleet in Dublin” said Ray Coyne, Dublin Bus CEO.

“Bus Éireann is Ireland’s national bus company. It was very exciting that our customers were amongst the first people in Ireland to travel by hydrogen during our three-week operation of the Caetano hydrogen fuel cell bus in November 2020. Driver and customer feedback was very positive and we gained important experience ahead of our deployment of three hydrogen vehicles in 2021. Bus Éireann is targeting half our vehicles to be zero emission by 2030 and the additional range offered by hydrogen fuel cell vehicle makes them especially relevant given our mix of longer commuter, stage carriage and intercity services,” said Stephen Kent, Bus Éireann.

“We in Toyota Ireland are delighted to have been part of the Toyota-powered hydrogen fuel cell bus trial. The results are hugely positive and it shows the viability of hydrogen fuel cell technology, and how it can bring Ireland to the forefront of zero emissions transport. We at Toyota have been investing in hydrogen fuel cell technology since 1993 and are proud to say that Toyota Motor Europe has recently further strengthened our alliance with CaetanoBus. We look forward to continuing to develop hydrogen fuel cell to realise our vision of zero emissions driving for the future.” said Steve Tormey, Chief Executive of Toyota Ireland.

“Dublin City University (DCU) aims to transform lives & societies and our involvement with this trial demonstrates that we are at the forefront of research, development and deployment of clean technologies. Our partners will learn so much about how to implement green hydrogen into transport to reduce emissions, but also how hydrogen can be produced sustainably by the integration of renewable energy in Ireland”, Dr James Carton Assistant Professor Energy Sustainability, Dublin City University (DCU), Ireland.

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Biomedical Engineering
Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineering at DCU

Biomedical Engineers bridge the gap between medicine and technology to create new types of diagnostics, monitoring tools and therapies, and build game-changing medical instruments and devices. 3D-printed body parts, cardiac pacemakers and robotic prosthetics - these are just some of the critical technologies used around the world to save lives and promote better health outcomes, and were all designed by biomedical engineers.

The world of medicine is evolving and expanding rapidly, with new treatments and new diseases appearing all the time. As Ireland is a major player in bioengineering, this MEng provides graduates with specialisms required by industry.

Find out more about our MEng in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering (majoring in Biomedical Engineering) here: https://www.dcu.ie/DC816

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Global Challenges
Global Challenges

BSc in Global Challenges

The DCU BSc in Global Challenges is for people who want to challenge themselves to take on the world’s problems. This unique programme integrates social science and technology studies through challenge-based learning.  

Technological advances can bring about huge changes to the way we live. Students will also explore the societal and economic impacts of new and emerging technologies, and their effect on the future of work, environmental impacts and community interaction.

Students will engage with concrete problems, such as climate change, gender stereotypes, fake news, global health and global inequality. Solutions to these problems will be explored through challenge-based learning projects, simulations, hackathons and interdisciplinary team-work. Challenges will be inspired by examples from the public, private, and NGO sectors, as well as student-generated challenges.  We will equip graduates to develop socially effective technological solutions to real problems.

Find out more: https://www.dcu.ie/DC189

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