A Chat with a local Engineer!

To celebrate STEPS Engineer’s Week which takes place nationwide over the next week, we caught up with local Engineer, Brian Daly who works in Integra LifeSciences in Tullamore…


Can you tell us a little bit about your role in Integra LifeSciences?

I am a Mechanical Engineer within the sustaining engineering team at Integra LifeSciences Tullamore, where we support and manufacture surgical medical devices for neurosurgery including tumour removal, neuro moni toring and surgical headlights. The lifesaving products we make in Tullamore are used by Neurosurgeons throughout the world in over 180 different countries.

My role within Integra Lifesciences Tullamore is largely project based, involving collaboration with multiple departments in Tullamore, the U.S. and Europe and spanning a wide range of activities.

  • Introduction of new products and processes.
  • Maintaining existing designs and implementing upgrades.
  • Validations of products and processes.
  • Compliance projects to ensure our devices meet the latest international requirements for safety and efficacy.


What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?

I have always been interested in how things work and during my schooldays preferred subjects which were practical based and required learning of principles rather than volumes of text, Engineering therefore seemed to be an obvious choice.

Where and what exactly did you study at third level?

I completed a degree in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at Athlone Institute of Technology (A.I.T), followed by an honour’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at Waterford Institute of Technology (W.I.T). I am also currently enrolled at W.I.T to complete my final year of an MSc in Innovative Technology Engineering.

 Why do you think national events like Engineer’s Week are important?

If you s top and think about any product, from your mobile phone, to medical devices, to the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, at some point in their development process, engineers were required to make them a reality and in order for these fields to make future advances engineering is also required. Initiatives such as Engineers week and STEM play an important role in providing an insight in to principles of engineering and the many career paths available, that previously may not have been considered by younger generations.

What are the main qualities you think a person might need if they are thinking of becoming an engineer?

Engineering encompasses such a wide range of disciplines, for example within our engineering team alone we have Production, Electrical, Mechanical, Software, Electronics, Project, Validation and Quality engineers along with many other departments who are all instrumental in achieving our objectives.

As Engineering is so diverse, it is difficult to suggest specific qualities required. I would say that misconceptions related to high levels of maths and other subjects don’t apply to all fields and instead if a person is naturally curious about how things work, enjoys working in teams, problem solving and logical thinking, engineering should be considered as a great career path with unlimited options.


Integra LifeSciences partner with Midlands Science for STEPS Engineers Week 2021

Barry W. Fitzgerald, BW Science, author of Secret Science of Santa Claus & Secrets of Superhero Science.
pho to: Bart van Overbeeke

Midlands Science is delighted to once again have support from Tullamore based medical technology company, Integra LifeSciences in the local, virtual roll out of events for this year’s STEPS Engineers Week. This annual, national event promotes engineering and the importance of the profession to children in Ireland. Last year marked the largest ever celebration of engineering in the community with over 92,000 participants taking part in 980 activities nationwide. The Engineers Ireland STEPS Programme is a non-profit outreach programme that promotes interest and awareness in engineering as a future career to school students in the Republic of Ireland through a portfolio of projects.

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science said,

“For this year’s STEPS Engineer’s Week, Midlands Science will come together on a digital platform along with a host of sponsors and presenters to present a range of interactive online activities. Our overall aim is to inspire young people of all ages to think about the vibrancy of engineering as a career and to demonstrate what an important role it plays in so many aspects of everyday life. It’s important to provide thought-provoking activities for children and their parents about engineering and technology, despite not being able to physically attend events or give students a behind-the-scenes taste of engineering as we would have done in previous years.’  

 Here in the Midlands, Engineer’s Week usually offers young people and teachers to engage directly with a variety of inclusive and diverse engineering experiences, so that they can make that important connection between school learning and real careers. In past years, Integra Life Sciences has addressed students in person in schools in the Offaly area to demonstrate the breadth of creative and innovative careers on offer and even though we are not in a position to do that this year due to the pandemic, we feel it is vital to continue to engage with the future generation in a fun and meaningful way that explores engineering in its many forms. The digital events being run by Midlands Science with support from Integra LifeSciences for Engineer’s Week is a really effective way to do this.

John O’Donovan, Plant Manager, Integra LifeSciences Tullamore commented,

“Integra LifeSciences is delighted to continue to support Midlands Science. We look forward to supporting the celebration of all things Engineering in the 2021 STEPS Engineers Week. It is going to be a fun filled event that will develop further awareness of the impact of Engineering on all of our lives and hopefully inspire the next generation to see the potential of a career in an Engineering field.”

Jackie Gorman continued,

‘We firmly believe that now more than ever, we need to continue to encourage young people from all backgrounds to consider a career in engineering and to provide them with the knowledge they need to learn about and to progress in to the sec tor. We are delighted to once again celebrate STEPS Engineer’s Week which shines a light on the profession and helps students to make informed decisions about their education and careers.’

For more information on STEPS Engineers Week and to access free resources and activities, visit: https://www.engineersireland.ie/schools/engineers-week



The Engineers Ireland STEPS Programme is a non-profit outreach scheme that promotes interest and awareness in engineering as a future career to school students through a portfolio of projects. STEPS is funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the Department of Education and Skills and has four industry sponsors including ARUP, ESB, Intel and TII.




Happy Pancake Day!

We know what we are eating all day so here’s the #science bit !!
Pancakes involve chemical reactions that create new flavours and textures. The chemical reaction is between a leavening agent [baking soda & baking powder] and an acidic ingredient [buttermilk] producing tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide gas. These bubbles form throughout the pancake, and are trapped as the batter cooks and solidifies. So you get a light and fluffy pancake honeycombed with tiny air pockets. The more of these leavening agents you add to a mixture, the more carbon dioxide will be produced, and the more bubbles will form. Once you have your tiny pockets of air bubbles, then comes the most complex and interesting part of the process.
This is the Maillard Reaction, and it’s this that gives pancakes their aroma, and a gorgeous golden brown colour. When you raise the heat on your pancake batter, the amino acids that make up the proteins begin to chemically bond with carbon and oxygen a toms from sugars. The end result is a complex brew of hundreds of different aromatic flavour inducing molecules, that give your food a distinctive and rich palette of flavours.
The Maillard reaction is behind the lovely flavour of roasted coffee, the malty flavour of certain beers and malt whiskey, that brown crust on a perfectly cooked steak, the nutty notes of maple syrup, or the delightful aroma of freshly baked bread. What’s more, the Maillard Reaction works best in an alkaline environment (i.e. a less acidic one). So the secret to getting that golden brown colour is to add more baking soda. Once you’ve added enough to neutralize the acidity of the buttermilk, anything left over will add to the browning. #pancaketuesday #believeinscience #pancakes

In conversation with: Ronaldo Lukason

In conversation with: Wayne Dunican

 Virtual Events to Inspire Future Engineers

Get Ready for STEPS Engineers Week 2021 in the Midlands

Local development company, Midlands Science has unveiled details of a range of activities which will take place online to celebrate national STEPS Engineers Week 2021, which runs from February 27th – Friday March 5th. The Engineers Ireland STEPS Programme is a non-profit outreach programme that promotes interest and awareness in engineering as a future career to students through a portfolio of projects. STEPS Engineers Week is Ireland’s largest celebration of engineering in the community with participants taking part in activities nationwide. This year, it will be a virtual event for the first time ever as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic but there will still be plenty of inspiring online engineering workshops on offer in the Midlands.

The programme includes a family event exploring space exploration and engineering with Ireland’s best known science communica tor Dr Niamh Shaw who even brough a Stargazer Lottie doll with her during her time at DRMARS, a simulated Mars facility! The week also includes workshops building Marble Runs with Christine Campbell from Anyone 4 Science. Marble Runs are a great way to explore engineering and children have lots of run learning that by making your track just steep enough to overcome friction, you can keep your marble rolling for a long time ! The ever-popular Dr Barry Fitzgerald of Superhero Science will be running workshops on how to build an Ironman suit and how to become an engineer. A special episode of the Midlands Science series Science at Home will explore engineering with Dr Dan Nickstrom. Also, workshops with sensors for air quality, temperature and humidity will be taking place in Abbeyleix as part of a Climate Action project that Midlands Science is involved with, supported by Creative Laois as part of the Creative Ireland Programme (2017-2022) in partnership with Laois County Council and Abbeyleix Tidy Towns.

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science said,

“STEPS Engineers Week is a very important week in our calendar every year and one which usually involves teaming up with a number of local and national partners to host career workshops, hands on project work and inspirational talks. It is usually a packed programme of events in schools and other local venues to celebrate engineering as a profession and to demonstrate to students of all ages just how much engineering is all around us in everyday life. We are looking forward to interactive, virtual engineering workshops . This year will no doubt be different, but we have plenty of activities planned for people to access online and we hope that the move to a virtual platform might actually create greater opportunities for participation than ever before.’

Caroline Spillane, Direc tor General of Engineers Ireland commented,

“By engaging in the wide variety of engaging events and activities developed by Midlands Science for STEPS Engineers Week 2021, the fascinating world of engineering will be brought to life in homes across Ireland and will provide students with the opportunity to explore the limitless opportunities a career in the engineering sec tor can offer. I would encourage families and teachers to sign up for Midlands Science activities and take the opportunity to dream, invent and create like professional engineers.”

Jackie Gorman continued,

‘Midlands Science is passionate about encouraging students to make that important connection between what they learn in class and real-world science and engineering roles. We may not be able to take students behind the scenes of some most successful companies this year to see a real-world glimpse of engineering in practise but we will still continue to continue to build awareness of this diverse and exciting industry and show everyone what a rewarding and creative career choice it can be.’

For more information on STEPS Engineers Week and to access free resources and activities, visit: https://www.engineersireland.ie/schools/engineers-week



The Engineers Ireland STEPS Programme is a non-profit outreach scheme that promotes interest and awareness in engineering as a future career to school students through a portfolio of projects. STEPS is funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the Department of Education and Skills and has four industry sponsors including ARUP, ESB, Intel and TII.




Creating a Quiet space for Science

Quiet Science is a project that is currently being delivered by local development company, Midlands Science which has worked over the past year to provide various workshops with ASD appropriate science outreach in response to requests and research. This project is funded by Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Awards programme and it began with two pilot schools in Co. Offaly. It is now being rolled online across the midlands through appropriate partnerships.

Dr Ruth Freeman, Direc tor of Science for Society, Science Foundation Ireland commented:

“Adapting to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, Midlands Science has moved online for its delivery of ‘Quiet Science’ events for children on the ASD spectrum, both through remote delivery to pilot schools and now through online events for wider audiences. Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to continue to support this important work, which exemplifies best practice in inclusive outreach, and to collaborate with the team at Midlands Science to ensure all students have the opportunity to engage with science.”

CEO of Midlands Science, Jackie Gorman commented,

‘Quiet Science, which focuses on science activities for children on the ASD spectrum is a project we embarked on last year. It allows pupils to participate in hands-on, engaging science lessons with resources and instruction provided. We are delighted that despite the current pandemic and school closures, we are still able to offer these activities online with our ever professional providers, ‘Anyone 4 Science’ and we have had an amazing response from parents and children alike.’

Before this programme was delivered, a suite of outreach activities was co-created with students and STEM providers in consultation with appropriate ASD education experts. The project will also produce a manual of best practice which will be circulated following evaluation of the project.

Jackie Gorman continued,

‘Lockdowns are challenging for all of us, and we are glad we have been able to continue to provide outreach. The students particularly seem to like the fact that special kits are delivered to their homes in advance of the workshops. We also saw great engagement with our Facebook Live events, which were also provided by the team at Anyone 4 Science during the summer of 2020 and we were so proud of our Midlands pupils for continuing to celebrate science in these extraordinary times. ‘

The ‘Quiet Science’ workshops are taking place online every Saturday until March 13th with further activities planned from April to June.  These workshops are also delivered in partnership with Anyone 4 Science based on work done in 2020 with partner schools in our Quiet Science project and this is funded by Science Foundation Ireland through the Discover Awards progamme.