Kevin Smith discusses his engineering career and work place challenges

There was always a background of construction work in the Smith family so it was no surprise to his parents that Kevin wanted to be an engineer. On completion of his Leaving Cert in Breffnii College in Cavan Town he says “I attended Dundalk IT and completed an engineering certificate and diploma. After that I spent a further two years in Queens University in Belfast, where I obtained my degree in Civil Engineering. Those were the best two years of my life, there was many a life changing moment in the Botanic Bar, on Malone Ave. A lot of great friendships were made during my time in Belfast that last to this day. Some are even work colleagues now.”

Career background

Kevin joined Irish Water’s Asset Operations team in 2014 having spent 15 years with Cavan County Council in various departments working on numerous projects. 

“I have worked as an engineer in housing, roads and environment sections, but it is the challenges in the water and wastewater operations and management that I find the most interesting and important. We have to ensure that water is fit to drink safely as well as ensuring that we are not negatively impacting the environment.

“I manage the wastewater treatment plants and sewer networks for Cavan and Monaghan with my colleagues in Irish water and Monaghan and Cavan county councils. I have to ensure that we meet our EU compliance standards in an efficient and cost effective manner.”  

Family life

Kevin has been married to Olivia for the past 20 years. “We have three children; Aine 15, Niamh 13 and Michael 11. Our family life is very much built into the local GAA community. It’s like our second family! I have been treasurer and chairperson in the local Club as well as many officer roles.  Now I serve as the Development Officer on the County Board. The weekend isn’t long enough to get all the GAA events attended to.” The only time he isn’t involved in his beloved Cavan is when he and his family are on holidays. “My favourite holiday location is the Jersey Isles. We have holidayed there many times and love going back to it,” he says. 

Kevin has lived in Cavan all his life and thinks it is a great place to have his roots. “The community is built so much on the people and their interactions with each other. The sporting groups in the county are wonderful – everyone is involved. The local communities are always working to improve the county and make it a place to be proud off. There is a belief in Cavan – we can do it and we will. I was even involved in the All Ireland Fleadh Ceol from 2010-2012 in Cavan, a great time. I was over the whole logistics of the event, from stage management to traffic management. We even broke the Guinness World Record in 2011 for the largest amount of brush dancers in one group.”

Work place challenges

Challenges in the work place happen on a daily basis. “Irish water is accountable to our customers and, as operation manager; I have to ensure that we have the capability to deliver a service that is acceptable, compliant and cost effective. Problems may arise on the networks or in the treatment plants and our highly skilled staff ensure that these are rectified. A burst watermain could affect to up 10,000 people and many businesses so the reaction time is very important.”

Kevin leaves us with his favourite movie quote from Forest Gump “My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.” He continues: “You cannot be afraid of changes or challenges, both will inspire you in the direction and path of life for you. I always believe never say no; try it first and see what you think. Your job in life is for you and not someone else. Listen and do not be afraid to have a go."

More information

For more information on news and events for Engineers Week visit our Engineers Week 2020 page.

Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow

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