Sarah Murphy, Quality Engineer
I grew up in a house where if you wanted to do something, you just did it. It didn’t make any difference whether you were male or female.
It wasn’t a conscious statement from my parents, just a way of life that we all took for granted, as being normal and correct. Nobody in my family was allowed to drive a car until they could check the oil, change a tire and start the car on a hill – without the handbrake. And we all pretty much started driving when our feet could reach the pedals. From an early age, I was into making things, whether it was Halloween costumes, tree houses, shelves for my room and later on, even some home-brewed cider from our own apples. I just enjoyed doing the hands-on things.
Growing up, I always knew I wanted to do something in the line of engineering…..
Originally, I wanted to be a fitter, but during my work experience, I got my index finger caught in a belt grinder and had to take 6 months off. So my trajectory changed somewhat. I started a city & guilds course in mechanical engineering which led on to getting a degree in manufacturing engineering from DIT Bolton St. During the summers and weekends, I worked as a welder, making farm gates and feeders.
After College, I went to work in the maintenance department of a meat processing factory and from there, left there to work in an American multinational for 5 years as a process engineer. This job was office-based and at this stage, I felt I was moving away from the practical type of work work that I enjoyed.
I am someone who grew up on a farm and have always loved dogs, so I decided this would also be an area that I would really enjoy working in. I went ahead and opened a dog boarding kennels, and designed, organized and helped with the bricks and mortar section of the building. Making and installing all the gates and dog runs, I ran the electrical cables, installed the light fittings and heater lamps. This taught me so much more than my 5 years in front of a computer and I found that running a business, was very satisfying. After 5 successful and fulfilling years, I sold it. It was now time to take some time out, so I bought a motor home and went traveling around Europe for 2 years going as far south as Gibraltar, north to the top of Finland and as far east as Transylvania in Romania and everywhere in between. It was an amazing experience that I feel lucky to have been able to do.
When it came time to go back to work to earn a crust, I already knew that I didn’t want a desk job, so was very happy to take a position working in the quality department for a hydraulic cylinder manufacturer.
My job now at Burnside Eurocyl covers all areas of quality, including machining, welding assembly, testing & paint. I look after customer complaints and disassemble cylinders returned from customers to identify the root cause of failure. If there are product line issues, I identify what the cause of the problem is and implement procedures to ensure they don’t happen again.
My day to day responsibilities also include new employees being trained or changing jobs within the company. I usually teach people how to read engineering drawings, measure manufactured pieces, what quality levels are required, how to identify good and bad pieces and how to assembly hydraulic cylinders. I have more recently been given responsibility for welding quality, which will involve specialized welding courses and welding inspection courses. It’s a role that I am very much enjoying.
There are 200 people working in the factory, with myself as a lone female on the floor. It has been one of the best companies I have ever worked in, in relation to being a female working in a stereotypical male environment.
I am treated the same as everyone else, no smart comments, no special treatments. Although, in the beginning, they took a bit of convincing to give me a job (We all know those people are still out there – but reducing in numbers). Now they are actively looking for female employees which is a positive move forward.
I always have some project on the back burner, restoring old furniture or some type of renovations. I will be taking an intensive welding inspection course in the next few months.
You have to keep learning and moving and enjoying yourself as that’s what life is all about