The discipline of engineering has a prestigious reputation, both in Trinity and across the world. Engineering students take on heavy workloads and long contact hours, clocking up an impressive number of hours in the lab. So how can a busy engineering student possibly have time to run a society? I spoke to Fergus O’Brien, chairperson of Trinity Engineering Society (Eng Soc), to find out.
Eng Soc, O’Brien explained, runs a variety of events over the course of each academic year, ranging from workshops where students from a range of disciplines can learn how to make various, mainly electronic, items, to social events like the Engineering Ball and the Mystery Tour. Until recently, a trip abroad was also organised each year. O’Brien explained: “This is something I want to bring back as chairperson”, noting that similar trips within Ireland are being considered as contingencies in the event of more COVID-19 restrictions.
Eng Soc also organises a number of guest speakers to give interesting talks about engineering as a career, or innovative research they may be working on. O’Brien said that these events are “a little more niche than the likes of the Mystery Tour” but that he has “never been to one that disappointed.”
“O’Brien urged students to come to Eng Soc if they are experiencing any problems, whether social or academic, and the society will do their best to mitigate them.”
One of the primary aims of Eng Soc is to provide academic support for their members. O’Brien explained that the focus of this support is on choosing a stream of engineering at the end of second year. In the second term of each year, Eng Soc hosts an event in which third or fourth year students from each stream explain their choice and give second years a sense of what it involves. O’Brien noted that most students “tend to find [the] Stream Choice Talks more beneficial than the ones provided by the school of Engineering, as it is given by students rather than lecturers”, allowing for a more authentic perspective. O’Brien urged students to come to Eng Soc if they are experiencing any problems, whether social or academic, and the society will do their best to mitigate them.
Over the last year and a half, Eng Soc — like every society — has been faced with an unprecedented challenge due to Covid-19 restrictions. O’Brien acknowledged that “very few societies came away from last year feeling like they had had their best year.” However, he adds that Eng Soc’s committee were “amazing” and “managed to salvage what could have been a really terrible year and reinvent the society in the process.”
Eng Soc ran their usual talks online rather than in-person and could even record and upload them for anyone who may have missed seeing them live. O’Brien explained that the real change came when Eng Soc’s then auditor, Cliodhna Kate O’Toole, suggested running events weekly, which really “kept the society alive.” Eng Soc’s usual events were interspersed with charity fundraisers and games nights, making the best of a difficult year.
O’Brien became auditor of Eng Soc in April 2021 and said his involvement in the society all began with free pizza. In his first year as an engineering student, O’Brien and his friends went along to the AGM of Eng Soc having been promised free pizza on arrival. Having obtained said pizza, O’Brien decided to run for first year representative and won. O’Brien explained: “I was hooked. Once I was on the committee and got involved in organising events, I fell in love with the society.” Having organised some very successful events in second year, O’Brien said: “when it came time to elect new officers, I wasn’t going to turn my back on the society I’m so fond of,” so he ran for auditor and won.
“O’Brien said his goal for Eng Soc as this year’s auditor is ‘to create a new era of inclusivity within the society.'”
O’Brien said his goal for Eng Soc as this year’s auditor is “to create a new era of inclusivity within the society.” He explained: “The society has held events in collaboration with DU Gender Equality before and are very proud to have endorsed the Black Studies campaign last year, but I want to keep the momentum of change up within the society.” Students should be on the lookout for events centred around women and minorities in STEM in the coming months.
O’Brien, along with Eng Soc’s Ents Officer, plans to run more casual events regularly over the course of the year, moving away from alcohol-based events to become more welcoming to those who prefer not to drink.
“’We’re a fun bunch, and even if you’re not in engineering, our events can still be a fun way to get into things you didn’t think you could.’”
As students return to campus this semester, O’Brien encourages them to get involved in Eng Soc and not to be intimidated by it. He urges students from any discipline to join, saying: “We’re a fun bunch, and even if you’re not in engineering, our events can still be a fun way to get into things you didn’t think you could.” O’Brien especially urges engineering students to get involved as it can be a great way to make friends to help you through the intense semesters.
This Freshers’ Week, Eng Soc will be running an outdoor treasure hunt. “It’s not engineering based, I know,” added O’Brien. “But it will be a great way to meet people with similar interests to you in an outdoor setting.” There will also be an information night, which may be online or in-person. For engineering students, there is a lot to love about Eng Soc and many opportunities throughout the year to make friends and learn something new. Now more than ever societies like Eng Soc are integral to the student experience.