Science Week Science Profiles – Georgia Kearney, Medtronic

As part of Science Week 2022 we are profiling local STEM role models to showcase the different careers and job opportunities available to young people interested in science. Last, but by no means least, is Georgia Kearney, a student co-op from Medtronic. We caught up with Georgia and asked her some questions about her career in science:

Tell us a little about your earliest experiences of science. 

I was always quite curious about how things worked when I was younger, from what windmills where to how my mum was growing my baby brother in her stomach (still amazed by that).  

However, my earliest experience of science that I recall was when I was going on holidays with my family. We had a long drive to get to our destination, so I grabbed this big old book my aunt had gifted me called ‘Children’s Encyclopaedia of Science’. It wasn’t so much the facts within the book that piqued my interest but more so the pretty colours on the front.  

I remember choosing the ‘Space’ chapter and it had explained how powerful the sun was and that if you stared at it too long you could go blind – so of course I took it upon myself to shut my eyes tight every time the sun was shining in my eyes to keep them safe. Although I was cautious about looking at the sky, I began to wonder about space and how all these planets and stars were able to just exist up in the sky which led me to ask for a telescope that Christmas. I would spend hours trying to put this ‘kid friendly’ telescope together but was still unable to see the moon and stars (it took about a month before I realised I left the lens cover on the end of it). Once I reluctantly asked my parents for help on how to build it and use it I spent some nights just in awe at how there was so much up there and we just couldn’t reach it.  

What did you study at college and can you tell us a little about it? 

I am studying Biomedical Engineering at Ulster University and I’m currently on my placement year at Medtronic. Biomedical engineering takes the fundamentals of engineering and applies them to the body to mitigate pain and disease. It might sound a bit daunting but biomedical engineering is the development/creation of any device that is in contact with the human body, from tongue depressors to defibrillators.  

What is your current role and what do you enjoy most about it? 

Currently, I am a student co-op at Medtronic. I thoroughly enjoy the variety of projects going on and the constant opportunity to explore new technologies. Working with fully qualified and experienced people within industry gives a lot of opportunity for learning and growth which I feel is a very valuable aspect of beginning a career in science. Overall, the people and opportunities present really create an enjoyable work experience.  

What is your favourite science fact? 

My favourite science fact is probably a well known one at this stage – but we aren’t ever physically touching something, there are atoms in the very air we breathe so when you’re ‘touching’ something there are multiple atoms between your skin and the surface of the object you’re touching so when you feel that pressure of an object it’s the atoms repelling each other.   

What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in science? 

If you or someone you know is considering a career in science the main advice, I would give is to ask questions. It’s been heard from teachers constantly over the years ‘No question is a stupid question.’ Which is true! Reach out to different employers/college’s and ask about what they offer or what they do and see which one sparks your interest. If your school/college offers open days, I’d encourage you to attend and speak to actual people from different companies and get a personal view on what the companies work mainly consists of and get a broader view on the morals and goals and see if they align with your own.  

Science Week Science Profiles – Christina Ryan, Medtronic

As part of Science Week 2022 we are profiling local STEM role models to showcase the different careers and job opportunities currently available to young people interested in science. Next up is Christina Ryan from Medtronic. Christina is a Digital Technology Engineer, mainly in the area of augmented/virtual reality and 3D computer models. We caught up with Christina and asked her some questions about her career in science:

Tell us a little about your earliest experiences of science?

The earliest experience that I can remember was when I was about 12 years old, I was visiting an open day for secondary school and a science lab was set up with various displays/experiments on each of the different benches. On the first bench there was a rat that had been dissected with all of its anatomy labelled and I found it really fascinating to get to see how all of the different body parts worked together to create an animal that could eat, breathe, walk and think. It had a great impact on me and it was the first time I thought about science as a career option.

What did you study at college, and can you tell us a little about it?

I stayed in college for a long time 😊 I really enjoy learning new and different things. I started off by doing Biological and Chemical Sciences (4 years) in University College Cork (UCC), it was a general course where I could experience many different areas of science and help narrow down what I really enjoyed. The first year had four main subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths, I was never very interested in Physics and hadn’t done it as a leaving cert subject, in fact I failed my physics exam at the end of that year however my grades in the other 3 subjects allowed me to continue to second year where I got to choose the subjects I wanted to do. I did a number of different modules including anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, and zoology. In the end I chose to finish my degree in the area of Neuroscience as it was the most different to everything else I had learned and for the final two years I completed modules like anatomy, physiology and biochemistry that were focused specifically on the brain, also learning about conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

After finishing my Neuroscience degree I went on to do a taught Masters in Neuropharmacology (1 year) in Ollscoil na Gaillimhe (formerly NUI Galway). This built on the knowledge I had already learned but focused on the signalling chemicals (neurotransmitters) that make the brain work and how imbalances in these chemicals can cause various illnesses such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, as well as anxiety or depression. The course also went through how various drugs work to treat these illnesses. When I finished the masters I decided to stay in Galway to do a PhD, though in a very different area. I joined a medical device lab where I worked for 5 years on a project to evaluate different materials and chemicals to find out which ones that tendon cells like to grow on the most. Although this was very different to the specialised areas I had studied up to then, a lot of what I learned was transferrable and I knew I could learn the information I needed as I had been able to before!

What is your current role and what do you enjoy most about it?

I am now working as a Digital Technology Engineer, mainly in the area of augmented / virtual reality and 3D computer models. This is very different from what I did in college, however I have gotten to learn a lot of new things. Moreover, a lot of the skills that I learned from college I can use in my current job such as critical thinking, decision making, presenting information to different people and technical writing etc. I mainly work with different companies to evaluate new technology and if that technology is something that will help us to get work done with better quality and/or quicker. The thing I enjoy most about my role is that I get to investigate a lot of different types of cool technology such as AR/VR headsets or 3D scanners and I get to keep learning new things all the time.

What is your favourite science fact?

There are no pain receptors in the brain. Headaches are caused by pain receptors in other tissues surrounding the brain such as blood vessels or the membranes that protect the brain.

What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in science?

If you have an interest in science but are not sure what exactly you want to do, don’t worry too much about what area you go into at the beginning, any science course you do will be a gateway to multiple different career pathways and you’re never stuck, you can always change. Also don’t sweat it if you’re not a maths genius, I have a PhD in Biomedical Engineering and I failed physics in college.

Gaming, Intubation and Space Flight

Exploring the World of Engineering in Athlone for Engineers Week with Medtronic

Students from the Midlands got a unique insight in to the world of engineering by taking part in a series of workshops at AIT organised by Midlands Science in association with Medtronic. As part of Engineers Week, the workshops explored everything from space flight to polymer engineering at this unique event at AIT. Students also had a unique chance to act as life-savers, performing an intubation procedure on a dummy patient. Many of the students were familiar with the procedure from medical TV shows, where the procedure is often shown in life or death situations in an emergency room. With some instruction from Medtronic staff, students got the chance to try out this for themselves and learn about Medtronic.  Tracheal intubation, usually simply referred to as intubation is frequently performed in critically injured, ill, or anesthetized patients to facilitate ventilation of the lungs. Medtronic produces a range of intubation products in a full range of sizes from adult to paediatric. Through a series of career talks, students also learnt about various careers in Medtronic and about how engineering is really about thinking creatively and enjoying solving problems.

Science and Technology communica tor Declan Holmes delivered a series of shows exploring space exploration and the role that engineering plays in such exploration.  The Engineering Department at AIT delivered a series of engineering workshops exploring civil, software and polymer engineering, reflecting the wide variety of engineering courses available at the Institute. Students also got the chance to engage with Dr Mindflip’s Ultimate Learning Experience, a science outreach project with a difference! Known to many from its appearances at various locations around the country, it provides students with an immersive experience where they choose their own adventure in a game and follow the s tory of a mad scientist, Dr MindFlip, and his robot assistant Anustasia. This award-winning outreach project was developed by a team of scientists, film-makers, script-writers and artists with a view to making physics and engineering more accessible and engaging for young audiences. It is housed in a vintage caravan, resembling a type of metallic machine on the outside, something you could imagine out of a Tim Bur ton movie, which turns out to be an interactive video game about physics and engineering on the inside.

Engineers Week is a national week-long celebration of the world of engineering in Ireland. Everything from bubbles in chocolate bars to life-saving cancer treatments involves engineering. However, not enough young people, especially young girls think it’s a world for them, so industry often struggles to recruit engineering talent. It also means that young people are missing out on exciting opportunities to make a difference in their own lives and the world around them. Engineers Week is coordinated nationally by Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme, which is funded under Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover programme Call. Dr Sean Lyons of AIT commented that events such as this were “instrumental in encouraging the future matriculation of secondary school students in to STEM subjects and, ultimately, careers.”


As a global leader in medical technology, services and solutions, Medtronic improves the lives and health of millions of people each year. The company is committed to improving lives through its medical technologies and solutions. With roots in Ireland since 1981, the company now employs more than 4,000 people across five sites in Galway, Dublin and Athlone. Medtronic Athlone manufactures airways products and also features an R&D Centre of Excellence.