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220224 Regeneron College Awards University of Limerick. Anna Feenan, Carigaline Co Cork, Kate Storan, Dooradoyle Co Limerick and Eva McMahon, Ardnacrusha Co Clare. Pic Arthur Ellis 220224 Regeneron College Awards University of Limerick. Anna Feenan, Carigaline Co Cork, Kate Storan, Dooradoyle Co Limerick and Eva McMahon, Ardnacrusha Co Clare. Pic Arthur Ellis

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Kate Storan’s University of Limerick engineering journey

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Kate Storan, third-year chemical and biochemical engineering student at University of Limerick reflects on her Coop placement with Regeneron Ireland. Photo: Arthur Ellis

Kate Storan, a third-year chemical and biochemical engineering student at University of Limerick, is finding her feet in industry through a Cooperative Education work placement programme with Regeneron Ireland

Kate Storan said luckily she hasn’t experienced gender-related challenges and “there is a push now for women in STEM, which is great”. Pic Arthur Ellis

Hailing from Dooradoyle, Limerick, Kate’s interest in engineering began with a curiosity for maths and chemistry and a flair for problem-solving.

Kate noticed how much she enjoyed maths and science in her school days, and that’s where she felt her strengths lay.

Attending Laurel Hill, an all-girls school on the South Circular Road in Limerick, Kate says, “Maths was one of my strongest subjects. I was awful at English. Problem-solving is something I’ve always known I was good at, and I enjoyed hands-on activities as well.”


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Kate explored all of the scientific subjects through secondary, keeping her options open for potential career paths.

“I did the three science subjects because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. That kind of kept medicine open.”

It was in her sixth year that the crossover of interest between chemistry and math became clear, leading her towards the field of chemical engineering.

Choosing to study at UL was a natural decision for Kate. Beyond education, UL’s vibrant culture and diverse clubs and societies offered a fun experience and Kate got involved in various clubs and societies activities, including scuba diving.

“Although the academics are very important, I wanted to have some fun in college too and meet new people,” she shares.

Starting in the Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering programme at UL, Kate found herself in a tight-knit community.

“We are a really small course, which is actually really nice because everyone knows everyone. If you need help, there is always someone who will help you. I always say it is like a little family we’re going into every day, which is really nice.”

The supportive atmosphere within her course helped Kate’s resilience, especially considering the reputation of chemical engineering as a challenging discipline.

“It is known to be quite challenging and having everyone there and being so close to each other is one of the driving factors,” she says.

Kate’s journey took an exciting turn during her co-op placement with Regeneron Ireland, a leading player in the pharma biotech industry with an Industrial Operations and Production Supply (IOPS) facility in Limerick.

Since starting her placement in January this year, Kate’s experience at Regeneron has been nothing short of affirming.

“Every day is different. When we are in the office, we’re seeing so much and getting brought on the floor as much as possible, seeing different testing, and even getting to give a hand to the actual engineers with their tests.”

Describing a typical day on her co-op placement, Kate emphasises the importance of standard operating procedure (SOP) training.

220224 Regeneron College Awards University of Limerick. Anna Feenan, Carigaline Co Cork, Kate Storan, Dooradoyle Co Limerick and Eva McMahon, Ardnacrusha Co Clare. Pic Arthur Ellis
Regeneron College Awards University of Limerick. Anna Feenan, Carigaline Co Cork, Kate Storan, Dooradoyle Co Limerick, and Eva McMahon, Ardnacrusha Co Clare. Pic Arthur Ellis

“There’s a lot of SOP training involved in the pharma industry, so we try to get as much of that done in the morning. Then there’s a lot of Process and Instrumentation Diagram (P&ID), so we’re given the map of, let’s say, air filtration or something like that, and then we have to verify that all of those are actually there.”

The most enjoyable part for Kate is experiencing the practical application of what she’s learned.

“Seeing what you’re learning in college put into practice on the manufacturing floor. For example, we learn about chromatography columns and centrifuges, but you never actually get to see them in person until you’re somewhere like Regeneron.”

Kate was recently honoured with an award at a College Awards ceremony held at Regeneron. These accolades acknowledge and celebrate exceptional research projects undertaken by students in Science and Engineering programmes. They also offer a preview into a potential STEM career in one of the world’s leading innovative companies.

Reflecting on her role as a female in engineering, Kate acknowledges the positive shift in gender dynamics.

“I’m lucky that I actually haven’t experienced gender-related challenges, especially in chemical engineering, and there is a push now for women in STEM, which is great. The gender split was something that had actually put me off engineering originally, and then I just said, OK, I’ll do it and I’ll see how it goes, and I haven’t felt any disadvantage.”

Kate’s passion for chemical and biochemical engineering is what motivates her to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical or biotech industry after graduation. Her advice for aspiring engineers, particularly women, is to make contact with professionals in the industry.

“Talk to people in industry. When people come into school to give talks, listen to them and ask questions. It’s the only way you will get to hear about and see what happens in industry.”

Kate’s journey highlights the strides women are making in engineering. As she navigates the dynamic intersection of academia and industry, Kate Storan and others are helping to pave the way for a future filled with more women in engineering.

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