Just chatted with Pipers Hill College- awesome questions too !
London Underground, University College Cork, University College Dublin, A crane hire company in Australia, Blackrock Castle Observatory Cork
I work with everyone at Blackrock Castle in their school events about Space. But right now, I’m currently in Australia, with my show ‘To Space’ about my dream to go Space and that we have to hold on to our Dreams. Then I go to Brisbane to speak about the way I put Space on stage at the World Science Festival
I’m the Artist in Residence at CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory in Cork, but I kind of work for myself really.
I’m someone who combines the creative part of my brain with my science brain to tell science and Space stories to a general audience in lots of different ways
When I was in school I really liked science and maths subjects. So I went to college and did a degree in Engineering. And then I kept studying and did a Masters Degree in Engineering and then I did a PhD in Science. During all of this though, I also wanted to work in something creative but couldn’t figure out a way to do that as an engineer. So after I finished my PhD, I became an actor and learned how to perform, and then I realised that I could tell stories about science as an actor and also speaking to the public. And thats kind of what I do now.
I make shows and events that promote space and science and I bring them to Science Festivals, Arts festivals and other family events. I have a dream that I want to go to Space, to inspire everyone to Dream Big and to tell everyone about the importance of research and the work happening at the European Space Agency to understand our place in the Universe. I made a show about Space called ’To Space’ and my dream to go to Space and I’m currently in Australia performing that show.
I visit schools and companies and I try to get people to think about Science and Maths differently and get them to see these subjects as tools to make really great stuff. I will be speaking at the World Science Festival in Brisbane Australia in a couple of weeks about the importance of telling stories about Science- in shows, and in movies and books etc.
Because I used to be an actor and I use these skills to help scientists and engineers learn how to speak about their work. Sometimes I perform comedy about science and help scientists do the same in an event called ‘Bright Club’.
My Typical Day
Every day is completely different- sometimes I’m making a new show, sometimes I’m writing a piece for radio, sometimes I’m meeting research institutes to help them explain their science to the public
Today, I’m Australia. My show ‘To Space’ begins on February 23rd, so I have work to do this week to prepare for that. I have to go over my script and do physical exercises and voice exercises to be ready to perform.
I talk to a lot of people about new ideas or events. So I meet people and we chat about possibly making a new show together. Or event. And I prepare a document and submit it a particular festival for consideration. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not. Preparing these documents can take a lot of time and you nee to put in a lot of work on them, regardless of whether you’re successful or not.
Sometimes I will get a call from a television programme or a radio programme who will ask me to give them an interesting article about something happening in the world of Space or science. I do a lot of research on that topic and then I will come on the radio or TV and tell them about what I learned.
I work with people all over the world on a number of projects that promote Space and Science. Recently I made a company with other people who work in the Space industry. It’s called STEAMakers.co. This company is helping people who work in the Space industry to go out into their community & speak about Space. But they don’t have to worry about what they have to talk about- we prepare a show for them, they just need to practise and we do the rest.
At the moment I speak to people in Canada as I will be giving a course in communications on the the Space Studies Programme this summer in Israel. I will spend a week with the students and help them to make an event about Space for kids as well as try to help them talk about what they do in the space industry.
I am always trying to learn new things- new technologies that I can add to my shows, or new computer software to make them even more beautiful or more effective in explaining Space or science. This is where my background in engineering comes in very handy, because the way my mind works makes this part of my job a lot easier.
I go to conferences about Space and talk about the shows that I made that focus on explaining Space to families.
No day is the same. Except that I work and meet lots of different people all the time.
What I'd do with the money
If I won, I would buy an Oculus rift, programme some virtual reality software about Space and bring it to schools as part of my talks about Space
I think people like to experience things when you are explaining science to them, and cool gadgets like virtual reality can help me show people science and Space stuff in a really exciting way. So if I won the money, I would like to adapt the show I bring to schools about Space and explain weightlessness using the Oculus Rift. That way I could bring to life what I’m trying to explain and it would help people better understand what Space is like.
And of course, once I have this virtual reality software written, I would come visit all the schools I spoke to as part of the competition and share with them what I know about Space and all the stuff I learned on my Space Studies programme and all the astronauts I met.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Creative, logical, curious
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
I worked for the Tube, London Underground transport system & I loved that job, cos I got to check out the trains, and walk down the tunnels at night & worked with so many different people from different departments to fix some of the problems happening on the trains.
What or who inspired you to become an engineer?
My Dad, definitely. He’s retired now, but he worked as an engineer too. He encouraged me to learn how to change plugs and read encyclopaedias (they were really big books of facts, sorted alphabetically, that you would look up for information, before Google & the internet) and he bought me my first computer too. I think he could see that I liked figuring things out & encouraged me to use it in lots of interesting ways.
What did you want to be after you left school?
I didnt really know- I liked numbers and was pretty logical, so engineering seemed like the right choice. But I did also want to be an actor, so I was a little confused. I wish I had met an astronaut, or other people working in the Space industry, because then I would definitely have applied to the European Space Agency for a job.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I talked A LOT in school and used to get VERY giddy. That would only happen when I would get bored in class, so it never happened in the like science, or Maths. Usually in Home Economics. Miss Egan didnt like me a lot, because of that – she was my Home Economics teacher – I STILL hate cookery, lol
If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?
Well, even though my job is not a ‘normal’ engineering job, I still think that I use my engineering every day in what I do. Being an engineer is more about the way you view problems and figuring out to solve them. Its more than a job. Its an attitude!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Oh, dear, I usually listen to instrumental music which is selected for me on Spotify based on my previous tunes, so I don’t have a favourite singer really. But if I HAD to give a name, I would say Goldfrapp
What's your favourite food?
Pancakes!! The fluffy ones, with LOTS of Maple Syrup
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I jumped out of a plane once, I went to Space School (called the Space Studies Programme) & met loads of Astronauts,
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To visit the International Space Station and report back to everyone what its like, To visit the Moon, To inspire all of you to Dream Big
Tell us a joke.
What do you get if you cross an Elephant with a Rhinoceros? Answer: Ell-if-I-know!!