Mechanical Engineering at ATU Donegal
It’s never too late to return to study
Never did Thomas Kissane think when he graduated from Mechanical Engineering that he would find himself working in Western Sahara. Thomas is a Quality Inspector in wind turbine renewable energy. It’s a career that has taken him from his native Gweedore, to some of the most spectacular places in Europe and Morocco.
Just back from Greece, he’s responsible for ensuring that the installation of wind turbines meet stringent regulations at a major site there. “You do need an eye for detail and a knowledge of how things work for this job.” His, is a story of lifelong learning in the truest sense. Returning to education has allowed Thomas to develop a whole new career, which combines his previous work experience and what he enjoys.
“Tinkering on motors and making things was close to my heart.” He enrolled on an apprenticeship at FÁS in Tool Making. Afterwards he worked locally for a few years. During the boom he went to Dublin working in the building trade. Then the crash happened. “Overnight our jobs were gone.”
By now Thomas had been in trades for over 10 years and wanted to enhance his qualifications. At an ATU Donegal Open Day it clicked. Thinking he could incorporate some of the skills he’d already learned and because the subjects interested him, he chose Mechanical Engineering.
Initially he describes how, “It was a shock to the system. Even sitting for long periods of time was difficult.” However he knew he had to establish a routine to succeed. “I’m a morning person, I did my study early. I’d hit the gym at 7 to get sharp for the day.” ATU Donegal offers extra curricular classes in maths and advice for students who’ve been out of study for a while. Both of which he says were very useful, especially in year one.
When choosing a course, his advice is to be motivated by the subjects, not just the title. “That’s what’ll keep you going under pressure. Class is only a small part of studying. Get an idea of the time involved and workload. Talk to past students.”
Thomas played for ATU Donegal’s rugby team (and has a few concussions to prove it). He encourages students to get involved in college life. “You feel part of the place.” Mature students are a welcome part of life at ATU Donegal. “The lecturers really do care about
you succeeding. ” He says his class formed a strong bond. “We worked hard and had the craic. We still meet up at Christmas.” ATU Donegal has strong links with industry and listen
to what companies want. “Our course tapped into what actually happens in mechanical applications and management. I was using the skills the minute I graduated.”
Graduating with a degree from ATU Donegal was a proud moment for Thomas. “It’s never too late to return to study,” he adds, “I’d recommend ATU Donegal whole heartedly. It was life changing for me.”