'I got to experience college life in a way that many of my friends did not'
Dubliner Stephen Reid was lucky to have been offered his top choices on both CAO lists when he left school.
Having grown up under a Dublin Airport flight path, his interest in aviation ultimately triumphed. Instead of accepting a place on a Level 8 (honours) biomedical engineering degree in a Dublin university, Stephen opted for the Level 7 (ordinary degree) BEng in Aircraft Systems at IT Carlow.
Considering his friends, like most Dubliners, were choosing to stay in the capital for their third-level study, it was a big step for Stephen. But the move is not one he regretted. "It was a good thing; I got to experience college life in a way that many of my friends did not," says Stephen, a native of Clarehall and a former pupil of St Paul's College, Raheny.
After he started in Carlow, the institute introduced a Level 8 course in the same field, and Stephen's was the first class to undertake it. He was one of only five graduates last year. "So, as it turned out, I got my Level 8 in four years," he says.
The BEng in Aircraft Systems is the only course of its kind in the country, and Stephen's story is a perfect example of the attractive opportunities for graduates in the fast-growing aviation industry. Within two months of leaving college, Stephen (22) landed a job with Ryanair, as maintenance coordinator for Northern Europe, based at the airline's headquarters in Swords, Co Dublin.
This particular job involved organising the maintenance of Ryanair aircraft across 17 bases in Europe - scheduled maintenance as well as the unforeseen, such as engine blowouts. "It's going very well," says Stephen. An understatement considering that, after only a few months with the company, he starts 2017 with a promotion. As project engineer, he now widens his area of responsibility to Ryanair's 53 bases in Europe.