During Engineers Week 2015, some 100 Transition Year (TY) secondary school students from schools in the mid-west (St Flannan’s College, Ennis, Co Clare and St John the Baptist Community School, Hospital, Co Limerick) paid a visit to the Vistakon facility in Limerick. The visit to the plant was to showcase the exciting and diverse career opportunities that the engineering profession has to offer. As a long-established multi-national in the mid-west, Vistakon works with local schools on an ongoing basis to foster upcoming talent and inspire the engineers of the future. Students and teachers toured the plant, met with some of the engineering team and learned more about their day-to-day working lives. The students then took it in turns to control a specially-designed robot to experience first-hand how robotics work and how software is used to control automated systems in a high-tech manufacturing environment. They enjoyed an introductory session on writing simple Android App and the challenge of building a tower from spaghetti and marshmallows!

Frances O’Brien, TY co-ordinator, St John the Baptist School, Hospital   “We found the visit to Vistakon excellent. Students thinking about their careers gained a real insight into the diversity of engineering roles and the fantastic opportunities available on our doorstep at Vistakon. “The three demonstrations painted a picture of what engineering is all about – advanced analysis and problem solving. It was an excellent opportunity for our students. They had the opportunity of interacting with working engineers, writing code and seeing engineering in action on the contact-lens production lines.”
According to teachers and students, the visit provided valuable insights into various engineering disciplines such as mechanical, moulding, process, automation and software. Established in Limerick in 1996, Vistakon is the world’s largest contact lenses manufacturer. The Limerick plant uses the most advanced technology in the industry and has 930 full-time staff, with over 90% holding third-level qualifications from predominantly engineering disciplines. The Limerick plant produces daily disposable contact lenses, using highly automated production processes and state-of-the-art technologies such as injection moulding, robotics, vision systems and sterilisation systems. The company is currently recruiting manufacturing, process, automation and moulding engineers from graduate to experienced level. Vistakon is one of several Johnson & Johnson companies in Ireland, employing over 2,000 people. Further information is available on www.careers.jnj.com.