Transition Year Work Experience Apr02

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Transition Year Work Experience

For one week of work experience I went to Tyndall. Tyndall is one of Europe’s leading research centers in information and communications technology. I was given a glimpse of the adult way of life and more importantly how they put food on the table. I was in awe at what I saw over this week.

            I walked in the door of Tyndall and immediately I knew I was going to enjoy the week. I was greeted by 19 other students who were doing the CEIA High Tech Elec program. What really amazed me was the building. The foyer wall was glass and you could see into the largest fabrication on site. Here were some of the brightest minds living in Cork are, and I was able to see them dressed in their protective gear, going about their daily lives. On the first day we were showed around the building and were informed of what work happens in Tyndall. We sat through a number of talks that were about micro needles and batteries. Micro needles fascinated me. They can be used as just a patch like a plaster. Underneath the patch there are a lot of micro needles that go into your skin, but they don’t go deep enough for you to feel them. Yet they are deep enough to allow medicine flow into the blood stream. With the huge advances being made in electronics the battery life in our devices has become shorter. Lithium ion batteries are no longer powerful enough. Lithium air batteries seem to be the way forward. The micro needle was invented in Tyndall.

            Our next day had much the same format. A talk on electronics and 3D printing interested me the most that day. Tyndall have made a part of a transistor that is so small you can nearly count the atoms on it. It was created on a 4 inch diameter silicone circular wafer. This transistor is so small that if you imagine the wafer as the size of the world the transistor would be the size of a 2 by 1 meter table. The second I heard this I knew this was a place I was going to enjoy for the next few days. Moore’s law is an observation that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. With the work that is being done in electronics I cannot see this law stopping anytime soon. This law has been true since 1965. For the second half of the day we were in the electrical engineering department of UCC where we programmed an Arduino board. I have a very slight knowledge of programming; however, I would really like to get into it. I made a circuit which, when it was dark the LED would turn on, and when it was bright it would turn off. This was achieved by using an LDR.

            Wednesday brought us to CIT for a course on soldering. Soldering is a process in which two metal items are joined together by melting solder over a joint. Solder melts at between 90 to 450 degrees Celsius. So it is not a wise move to get burnt. However, I believe every single person in the room that day burnt themselves. We made a very interesting circuit. It made two infrared LEDs flash. Humans cannot see infrared but a phone camera without an infrared filter leaves you see a violet light. Infrared is used in television remote controls. So it has a practical use in our every day lives.

            We were given a placement on that Thursday and I visited Boston Scientific. They specialize in non-intrusive operation devices. This means that instead of having open-heart surgery you can have a slit cut in you arm where they will insert a wire that can go to your heart via arteries and fix the problem. It is a much safer way to do this type of operation and the recovery time is significantly shorter. I was working on the Encore project. This is a device that works as a pump and it can inflate another device that goes into your body. The machine was an extraordinary sight. It cost millions to install and to even think that I was working with such a machine trilled me. Around 800 people are employed in Boston Scientific in Cork. I loved this part of the week because I got to see what it was like to work in a multinational company. And I liked everything about it. The work ethos was great and there was always fun to be had. However, it was also very serious and the quality of work done was second to none. This experience has inspired me to try and work with a multinational company in the future, as it seems like the best jobs are there.

             The final day was what brought out my creative side and let my love for technology shine through. We were put in teams of three and had to make a new invention by using some of the ideas we came across on our weeks work experience. I knew micro needles could be put into practice in a number of areas in healthcare but I needed to find another way to use them. See through electronics was a concept that we also came across. We came up with the F.M.U. (Forearm Monitoring Unit). It would be like a plaster but contain micro needles. It would have a touch screen interface by using break troughs in bendable and see through electronics. Recently electronics have been fitted in paper and this would also come into play. The needles would supply the user data from their blood and it would be presented on the screen. It could be changed for each user. It could look for insulin levels in diabetic users or it could be changed according to the needs of each user. Athletes could also use it to check for heart rate, oxygen levels and hydration levels. Our idea came second in the competition.

            This week of work experience was amazing and it opened my eyes to a whole world of science that I hadn’t yet seen. I believe that I would happily work in a similar working environment. I would recommend the CEIA High Tech Elec program to anyone with an interest in science or technology. 

Dara Baldwin