Cathal Ó Murchú
Dough Bros., The Westwood Hotel, DePuy Synthes, Sweetgreen (Boston), Sheridans Bar and restaurant, Kelly’s Bar.
I am a researcher working towards getting a doctorate in civil engineering. I work on metals for moving steam around power plants.
National University of Ireland, Galway,
24 year old PhD researcher, my hobbies include, Scouting, scuba diving, Tae Kwon Do and drinking tea!
I live with 4 other students in a very small house in Galway, we’re not allowed any pets but if I could I would have at least a dog, a cat and an owl (cause owl’s are awesome). I’m from Kildare originally but I’ve been in Galway 6 years now, so I think that makes me a galweigan but I’m not sure. I am the health and safety officer for the NUIG Tae Kwon Do club, so I spend a lot of time training in the evenings, doing lots of cool martial arts moves. That’s me at a recent TKD competition.
(think Jackie Chan but like not as bad ass). I also run a scout group for young people aged 11-15 where I try to teach them things like survival skills, camping, hiking, cooking and other useful skills. (Picture is of me giving out some badges to my scouts)
Aside from all of that I watch a bit of TV and play games on my PC whenever I can.
My aim is to make electricity plants better for the environment by using new metals and stopping breakdowns
What I mainly do is known as modelling, which is a way of trying to predict (guess accurately) what something is going to do by using maths. So I am working on making a computer program that will predict when cracks will happen in a piece of steel pipe. The kinds of pipe my model is for, look a lot like this: . This is from a power station in Ireland, from a few years ago.
I cut them up and I heat them up to 600 C for different times, and I look at them under a microscope to see what changes happen in the metal. Then I try to use models to represent these changes in my program, the program looks a bit like this: .
My Typical Day
I spend most of my day working at a computer, teaching students and also testing materials in very hot ovens!
This is my work desk: (there are many like it but this one is mine)
To be clear, it’s always a mess, but I know where everything is, which is all that matters really! Take careful note of the Desk Penguin, his name is Watney after the main character in The Martian. The small plastic baggies contain individual metal samples for testing, the big red folder is where I keep all my meeting notes. Now the most important thing on the desk is my hardback copy book, everything I do goes into one of these because as Adam Savage (Mythbusters, and a personal hero) says the difference between science and screwing around is writing it down!
So it’s an oven, but it does go up to 1300 C which is super hot!! (check what the oven at home goes up to if you’re not impressed). All my samples go in here for different times to see what that does to the metal. There’s an image of my metals below, the top one has been in the oven for three days and you can see the change in the colour compared to the one below which has been in at all yet.
Aside from being at my desk making and testing my code, I spend a lot of time writing reports for my bosses and writing up any interesting things I’ve read. Most of your work as a researcher is about learning and reading what other people have done and checking to see if it could be useful. If you’ve made something new or done something a new way you can get a paper published. Papers are like newspaper stories but for a very specific set of people, once you write one it gets sent to other academics all over the world. This makes sure that your work isn’t stolen and is written the right way, this is known as Peer review and it is the backbone of all science and engineering. So whenever I read something new I write what I thought was good and bad about it because I might need it later.
What I'd do with the money
Promotion of Maker spaces and of the importance of Making for everyone
For as long as I can remember I’ve loved taking things apart and trying to fix them or just understand how thy work. This led to me becoming an engineer, and in secondary school I made some really great projects from lock mechanisms to a working model ski-mobile. The importance of those hours spent making something with my own hands has only recently become obvious to me. I think that as a community we’ve lost the appreciation for working with our own hands to make something, it doesn’t matter what it is you’re making so long as you enjoy the process.
What I’d like to do with the prize money is promote the idea of Making. Which is making things yourself and achieving that feeling of pride and excitement about something you’ve made. It can be anything, from poetry to a model spaceship to a Lego robot to a suit of cardboard armour from your favourite video game. I’d like the money to go to a local maker space if possible or to introducing the idea of Making to students or the community as whole.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Adventurous, dedicated and funny
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
I was responsible for installing a special acid washing station in a company I worked in, getting it working was a huge achievement for me as I was only a student at the time.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I’ve always loved making things and understanding how things worked. The sense of discovery and exploring something is what inspired me to be an engineer. That and Adam Savage from Mythbusters!
What did you want to be after you left school?
I wanted to be a pilot or an engineer, see dreams do come true!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes, I got in trouble for writing a little program that caused a lot of hassle for the teachers in my secondary school
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I would probably be a scientist, or possibly a mechanic.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Tough question it changes all the time, probably the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Counting Crows
What's your favourite food?
I’d have to go with a proper Shepards Pie, with loads of gravy
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I spent 11 days hiking through Austria and the Czech Republic, which was amazing! That or scuba diving in Iceland!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. Have a workshop of my own, including a forge, to make all the things!! 2. Go to Mars! 3. Travel the world!
Tell us a joke.
I don’t trust atoms, they make up everything!! (I’m sorry I know its terrible)