Meet Orla Martin - NIE Networks Scholarship Student 

What degree did you study?

I studied a MEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering degree at Queen’s University Belfast with a placement year at NIE Networks.

How did you become interested in this course?

I have always been interested in STEM subjects, excelling in both maths and physics. When in lower sixth I took part in the SENTINUS Team R&D programme which opened my eyes to engineering. I thoroughly enjoyed this programme and so started to research careers in engineering. I knew just by looking at the different types of engineering that electrical was the one for me. Not only did the course suit me perfectly (there is a lot of maths and physics involved), the career opportunities are excellent, especially for woman, which was a big factor in my decision.

Why did you apply for the Scholarship?

I heard of the scholarship in my first year of university when NIE Networks held a launch day in Queens University. It sounded like a great opportunity which would not only give me valuable experience working as an engineer, but would also help me financially through university.

What stage of the scholarship are you at now?


Did you enjoy your placements?

 I have really enjoyed all my placements so far. I completed two summer placements and a year placement in Network Development. Each one has been different and extremely interesting.

My first summer placement was with plant and technical. Through this placement I experienced various tasks such as protection testing, substation commissioning tests, LV and HV cable fault locating. Everyday was different which was great as I got to travel to many places seeing a range of different equipment. It provided me with a great knowledge of how the network works and was challenging and stimulating.

My second summer placement was in lines delivery. This placement gave a great insight into the vast work needed in maintaining and developing the network. I spent time with surveyors, tree cutters, live lines teams, transmission linesmen, patrollers, PMEs, and project engineers. Although the placement was only 8 weeks, I saw so much and found it very enjoyable.

What's a typical day like?

Most days I am in the office working on various different projects. I study and monitor the electricity load and increasing generation on the network using special software. This also involves site visits to connect transformer meters to our SCADA system, checking the information coming back is correct, and checking which substations are going into reverse power flow due to the amount of generation connected. This helps in deciding if more generation (like wind turbines) can be connected and where. 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

My placement has been a great experience and I hope that I can attain a permanent position here when I graduate.

What advice would you give to someone considering a Scholarship?

Definitely go for it! It is an amazing opportunity which you will benefit so much from.

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