Home » Women in STEM » Supporting global communities and inspiring Ireland’s future talent
Women in STEM 2021

Supporting global communities and inspiring Ireland’s future talent

Photo provided by Engineers Ireland

Aisling Hahessy

Chartered Engineer, Engineer of the Year – Engineers Ireland

Aisling Hahessy, Ireland’s Engineer of the Year, explains how engineering directly impacts people’s lives and society.


My engineering career has afforded me the opportunity to work on global projects and transform communities around the world. To date, I have been lucky to work on incredible structures, from city-shaping projects, such as new airport buildings in Mexico, metro stations in Saudi Arabia and an elevated station in Canada, to humanitarian and development work in Rwanda, Peru, Uganda and Bangladesh.

Broadening horizons 

One of the most rewarding aspects of my career is using my engineering skills to work on projects that help to reduce the inequalities experienced by the most vulnerable communities in the world.

In 2017, I travelled with a group of volunteers to rural Rwanda for a bridge construction project. During the rainy season, the local communities were completely cut off from schools, healthcare and markets. The new bridge provides safe, year-round access for the 2,000 members of the community in close vicinity.

For me, this project was a pivotal experience in understanding that engineering can have a life-changing impact on marginalised communities. 

For me, this project was a pivotal experience in understanding that engineering can have a life-changing impact on marginalised communities. 

I am currently the lead structural engineer for the design of bamboo play structures in rural Bangladesh and the concept design of a music academy in a refugee camp in Uganda. I am also working as part of a team on the reconstruction and retrofit of 74 schools in Peru following the devastating impact of the 2017 El Niño storm. This project will impact the lives of 47,000 children across Peru in its first year of completion alone.

Creating STEM pathways 

In addition to supporting international communities through my overseas development work, I think that community engagement at home is equally as important.

Throughout my career, I have been involved in a number of outreach initiatives to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects and careers. During the lockdown in 2020, I set up a mentoring programme to support Leaving Certificate students.

Engineering our future

I believe that engineers have a vital role to play in solving the world’s most-pressing challenges. Engineering is a collaborative and compassionate career which provides opportunities to improve people’s lives, whether working on projects at home or abroad. Helping the next generation to see the opportunities to make a difference through working in STEM is vital.

Next article