Muiris Moynihan MIStructE
Date published

7 January 2020

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Muiris Moynihan MIStructE

Date published

7 January 2020

Muiris explains the role of structural engineers and the value of his Chartered Membership.

What inspired you to become a structural engineer? 

I enjoyed the challenge of maths and physics at school and was lucky to have great teachers in both subjects. I considered a career in science but wanted to have a more direct impact on people’s lives so chose to do a general engineering course at university. 

Structural engineering seemed to me to give the most room for freedom and creativity, as well as delivering tangible improvements to society in the buildings and infrastructure that we design and construct.

I’ve been a structural engineer for over a decade, splitting my time between consultancy, research, innovation and working for a contractor.

What are the greatest achievements of your career to date?

I’ve always believed my greatest achievements are yet to come, however I am proud of the projects I’ve been part of in London, Dublin and farther afield. 

Researching and writing a PhD was satisfying, as has been the modular housing innovation project I’ve worked on as this area will hopefully become the future of the industry. 

Bizarrely the thing I end up pointing out most to family and friends is a handrail in the Tate Modern building that I designed at the very start of my career!

How would you define structural engineering?

The architect comes with a ‘vision’ for a building – however it often won’t stand up or is impractical to build. The structural engineer works with the architect and the builder to make a design that can be efficiently constructed and will safely stand up.

Structural engineering shapes the built environment – all the buildings we live and work in, and the infrastructure networks that connect and service them – and ensures that people remain safe in using this environment, despite extreme events such as storms and earthquakes. It’s only when buildings or bridges collapse (fortunately infrequently in Ireland and the UK) that the understated importance of structural engineers is widely appreciated.

Who should become a structural engineer? 

It’s important to understand the theories and able to do the calculations, but team-work and problem-solving are at the heart of what I do each day – finding ways to balance competing demands, working through innovative products and processes, and understanding how the engineering influences cost, time and quality to deliver value to a client and to society. 

As computers become able to do more of the calculation, engineers will be freed up to spend more time coming up with new, creative solutions and working them through – this might encourage different types of people to join the profession.

What does Chartered Membership mean to you?

Chartered Membership is a badge of quality. It says you have been judged competent by your peers. The process of becoming chartered was very valuable to me – reviewing my experiences highlighted areas I had to brush up on, whilst the notes I created for the exam have been a handy reference guide ever since.

I’ve been approached about jobs around the world based largely on my Chartered Membership – I haven’t taken any of them (yet!) but it is proof to me that being Chartered can open doors internationally.

How do you interact with the Institution?

Living in London I tend to focus on events at HQ, which are interesting and informative.

In preparing for the Chartered Membership exam I used the past papers, examiners’ reports and technical guidance notes extensively. As a member and vice-chair of the Institution’s Sustainability Panel I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to learn from other members and get involved in industry-wide initiatives.

Articles by Muiris

Steel, concrete and climate change

Muiris Moynihan MIStructE explains why use is so widespread, the materials' climate change impact, and why their responsible use is the realm of structural engineers.

Publish Date - 11 December 2019
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Price - 0
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The Structural Engineer <h4>Held to carbon account: the end of 'bog standard' new build?</h4>

Held to carbon account: the end of 'bog standard' new build?

As the climate changes there will be ever-increasing social and economic pressure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, with focus turning to the embodied carbon in products which has thus far been eclipsed by operational values.

Publish Date - 2 January 2020
Author - Muiris Moynihan
Price - £9
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