Leaving Cert engineering: the verdict

Toys mostly for boys on an all-action paper taken by some 5,000 students in the State

Deloreans (pictured) and nuclear explosions set the tone for a challenging Leaving Cert engineering exam taken by more than 5,000 students across the State today.

Deloreans (pictured) and nuclear explosions set the tone for a challenging Leaving Cert engineering exam taken by more than 5,000 students across the State today.

Thu, Jun 5, 2014, 14:30

Tumbling cars, redsigned Deloreans and nuclear explosions set the tone for a challenging engineering exam as more than 5,000 students took one of the more practical Leaving Cert papers.

Just shy of 300 girls took the paper, which also featured a question about iconic Irish furniture designer Eileen Gray.

“Engineering proved once again it is at the cutting edge of innovation with the compulsory special topic question this year focusing on nuclear power,” said Ciaran Callaghan, chair of the Engineering Technology Teachers Association.

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“Given the current emphasis on energy supplies it was an excellent choice of topic.”

Students were assessed on the principles of nuclear fission, the advantages and disadvantages associated with nuclear power, and safety in a nuclear plant.

The engineering paper is worth 50 per cent of the student’s overall grade. The other 50 per cent is based on a six hour practical examination which assesses the students’ ability to interpret a technical drawing and use a variety of skills and equipment to accurately produce and assemble components to form a working mechanism.

Students are also assessed through the design and manufacture a piece of coursework in class during the year. This year’s higher level task was to design and build a model “Tumbler” – the Batmobile from the Dark Knight trilogy.

“This was a big hit with the students, who were delighted to apply their creativity and practical resourcefulness to this dynamic challenge. Together with today’s paper it affords students the opportunity to balance their theoretical knowledge of the subject with practical applications and problem solving abilities. Our engineers of the future should have been happy with today’s paper,” said Mr Callaghan.

Eamonn Dennehy of Heywood Community School welcomed the searching nature of the questions, which required students to use their judgement and apply what they have learned. “There were many higher order questions requiring judgement and decision making. You’d need a real interest in engineering to do well here,” he said.

Almost 1,000 students took the subject at ordinary level. Mr Dennehy said there was plenty of choice on an exam that was “more about finding what you know than trying to catch you out”.