Leaving Cert engineering: Modern exam features wind energy and robotics

Students had to apply knowledge of wide range of concepts in written paper

The engineering paper challenged students to think logically and creatively with an engineer's mindset, according to Donal Cremin, the ASTI representative for the subject.

“Students were asked to apply their knowledge of a wide range of engineering concepts, materials and processes in a wide-ranging examination set in a modern context,” said Mr Cremin, a teacher at Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra in Co Kerry. “The excellent use of graphics and colour continues to enhance experience for candidates.”

This year the sixth-year project accounted for 50 per cent of marks instead of 25 per cent, whereas usually a project and practical skills exam account for 25 per cent each.

Micheál Martin, TUI subject representative and an engineering teacher at Castleblayney College in Monaghan, said that this year's higher-level paper offered good choices to students and was fair and balanced.


“This year, the special topic was hybrid technology and, unlike previous years, was not compulsory,” he said.

“In questions three and five, they had to do graphs, and while students will be familiar with this, there’s always a risk they could lose out on marks by not paying attention to detail.”

Mr Cremin said that the higher-level written exam contained many questions where the candidates had to think before applying their knowledge to arrive at an appropriate answer.

“Question one, which tests students on a wide range of topics, was not compulsory this year but candidates would have been happy with the material examined ranging from wireless headsets, automatic hand sanitisers to telescopic adjustment of selfie sticks,” he said.

Mr Martin was glad to see Combilift, a major employer in Monaghan, feature on the paper, with students asked to describe a suitable lifting mechanism for forklifts and how the design of the multi-directional forklift helps to improve workplace safety.


The exam featured modern and relevant topics such as robotics in keyhole surgery and offshore wind energy, which both teachers welcomed.

Mr Cremin said that ordinary level candidates were asked to answer three from seven questions and they also benefited from the increased weighting applied to the project.

“Candidates at ordinary level had to design and manufacture a model eRacer. The paper layout and use of graphics was widely commended by teachers and students who sat the examination. The colour graphics bring the topic being assessed to life for the candidates.

Mr Martin said that the ordinary level paper also offered great choice and was “a good, balanced paper.”

Try this at home:

Engineering, higher level

Offshore wind energy is an ever-increasing form of renewable energy around the coast of Ireland. Describe, with the aid of a diagram(s),

(i) how turbines convert wind energy into electrical energy;

(ii) Outline one advantage and one disadvantage of offshore wind energy