Jennifer Keenahan:
Civil Engineer


Your name?
Jennifer Keenahan

Your job title?
Civil Engineer: Bridge Design Engineer at ARUP.


What are the main tasks and responsibilities?

I do full detailed design of bridges in Ireland and abroad

Describe a typical day?

Checks on drawings, hand calculations, calculations using excel spreadsheets, building computer models of bridges, analyzing the results of these computer models

What do you find most interesting ?

Number-crunching, knowing that my bridges will get built, being an expert consultant

What’s not so cool? What are the main challenges?

Time pressure and deadlines, comments and queries from site

How do you use mathematics within your job?

I use maths in everything I do. Figuring out how much steel and concrete need to be used in each bridge is a maths problem.

What type of mathematics do you use to solve problems?

Trigonometry, algebra, co-ordinate geometry, basic arithmetic, optimisation

Who or what has most influenced your career direction?

Family, teachers and careers guidance councilors

Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?

Mostly yes

What subjects did you take (and why did you take them?) in school and did they influence your career path?

I took English, irish, maths, geography, physics, economics and French – I deliberately kept my options open

What is your education to date?

Went to Colaiste Losagain secondary school, Civil Engineering in UCD, PhD in bridge engineering in UCD

Did you like maths at school?


What aspects of the mathematics curriculum or mathematics courses have proven most important for your job?

Every part of the maths courses I have covered have been useful

What other skills do you think someone should obtain if they wanted to pursue your career?

For example computer coding, project management, languages.

Definitely computer coding, not so much languages

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?

What qualities / skills / values / interests / education would someone need to have to ‘fit’ your job? What can give them an ‘edge’?

maths maths and more maths