Case study: Engineers Week 2014 at Eli Lilly

Fact file

img_3909Who? Eli Lilly is a global healthcare leader that unites caring with discovery to make life better for people around the world. It has significant manufacturing operations located near Kinsale, Co. Cork. The 400 employees at the site are responsible for the clinical support, commercialisation and ultimate supply of a range of bulk active medicines derived from chemical synthesis and biological processes. Lilly employs over 50 professional engineers in its staff and has many engineers contracted to support a capital investment program of almost EUR400 million over a four-year period.

What? An on-site session at our manufacturing plant for Senior Cycle students from the local secondary school.

Where? Eli Lilly, Dunderrow, Kinsale, Co. Cork

When? 9am-1pm 11th February 2014

Why? The aim of the event was to inspire students to choose engineering in college and as a future career. This was done by providing information on engineering by sharing our own experiences. The students were encouraged to ask questions and talk to the engineering volunteers to figure out if engineering is a good fit for them. We also wanted to grow awareness of Eli Lilly in the local community and share some of the operations that occur on-site in a manufacturing plant.

The details:

On 11th February 2014, Eli Lilly Kinsale hosted its 3rd on-site Engineers Week Event with a group of 50 students (mainly Kinsale Community School 5th years), two teachers and one Engineers Ireland representative.

pv110214-lilly-10A group of 15 Lilly engineers from different areas across the site took part in a morning of activities with the curious, budding young students. These activities included a series of presentations on exciting careers in engineering, a poster break-out session where the students had the opportunity to talk to the engineering volunteers and learn about some engineering ‘hot topics’, a biotechnology video, two engineering challenges and a plant tour of the continuous hydrogenator, the boiler house and the environmental control & utilities department. Unfortunately the rain didn’t hold off for the whole morning but this didn’t dampen the spirits!

The students were divided into smaller teams in order to take part in the engineering challenges. The Marshmallow Challenge encouraged teamwork, communication, innovation and design when the students had to build the tallest tower, which could support a marshmallow on top, using just 20 spaghetti sticks. The winning structure reached an ambitious 53cm!

The second ‘Hexbug’ Challenge involved the students designing a maze, with two obstacles incorporated into the design for their mini-robots to overcome. The students really learned the value of planning and prototyping in this challenge as the actions of the Hexbug were completely out of the team’s control. Critical thinking and problem solving skills were applied by each team when the Hexbug couldn’t quite make it to the end and a quick redesign was required. The students also learned of the complex electronic engineering involved in designing the robot-bugs.

pv110214-lilly-13The engineers involved did a great job in sharing their experiences and advice on the world of engineering. All feedback from students and teachers was extremely positive. Their enjoyment was evident from their engagement and interaction on the day. Hopefully the students benefited from their morning on-site and found the information shared interesting and useful in making their college and career decisions over the next year. Maybe we have awoken ‘The Knack’ inside some of the young people by demonstrating what a career in engineering can offer!

Special thanks go to all involved and also to the engineers who took part in the week’s events by visiting other local schools to share their experiences of engineering. All the staff involved thoroughly enjoyed the day and we would definitely recommend other organisations getting involved with students in their own communities.

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