Nicola Greene



School in Gorey. Biosystems Engineering at University College Dublin. Masters in Hydroinformatics and PhD from UK. I take many online courses around business and languages as they weren’t part of my University education but I need them a lot now. Study them hard in school, they might not look useful now but they will be!


B.Eng, MSc, PhD, Associate Fellow HEA

Work History:

Ireland, England, Nepal, Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, Brazil – all as engineer…mostly sanitation


UNICEF (United Nations Children Fund)

Current Job:

Assess sanitation technology that is affordable for low income communities

Me and my work

I am a Sanitation Engineer currently working with UNICEF in Kenya.

A ‘Sanitation Engineer’ is not a job you hear of often in Ireland… however, in Africa it is very necessary. In Kenya alone 6 million people have no access to ‘sanitation’ or basically, a toilet. Can you imagine a country where millions have no toilet and no organised structures to convey human waste away from households? It is not the nicest thing to think about but its a serious health risk, especially in cities (that said cities in Ireland were not much different a hundred years ago!)

My job is to solve this problem – through designs of basic toilet technology that is affordable and accessible for the poor and also good waste management systems.

The job is perfect. It requires a lot of creativity (you spend a lot of time working as an inventor!), is extremely challenging but also provides you with a sense of adventure and really feels like it has an impact on people’s lives. The cons are that the situation is very upsetting in some places and you feel a bit helpless to solve the larger problems of the country, and obviously that I miss family and friends in Gorey and Ireland!

My Typical Day

My typical day is very varied – sometimes I visit communities, other days manufacturers and indsutry – some days in the office designing new technology and processes. I am rarely in an office but will do my best to join you for chats :-) – please leave questions for me if not.

My perfect day is testing new equipment I have designed to empty human waste from pit latrines (a basic toilet that has a pit rather than a septic tank). I design equipment to empty the pits and work with local small scale business men to help them make money through emptying the latrine pits and bringing the waste to a treatment site.

This helps them to make money, but also provides a valuable service to householders who need their toilet emptied so they can continue to use it.

When it goes well, this is a brilliant day…when the machine fails…it gets messy.

What I'd do with the money

I would like to donate it to Engineers Without Borders Ireland and FABLAB Kenya – both organisations that encourage people to use engineering skills to create positive change in the world.

I would like to use the money to support two great organisations:

250 EUR to Engineers Without Borders Ireland – an organisation who encourage Irish engineers to use their skills to create change in the world around them (

250 EUR to FABLAB in Kenya – an organisation that run science and engineering workshops in schools here to help students gain some confidence in their ability to create and engineering as a career


My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Adventurous, Ambitious..but a little Anxious

Who is your favourite singer or band?

The XX (if abroad in a stressful situation I always listed to their album)

What's your favourite food?


What is the most fun thing you've done?

I love cycling and have had many fun trips

What did you want to be after you left school?

I was considering aeronautical engineer, Formula 1 engineer or physio

Were you ever in trouble at school?

My mother is a teacher …I couldn’t be

What was your favourite subject at school?

Best at maths but loved biology

What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?

I taught a group of women to build and create for themselves in Nepal – it was great to see their confidence grow

What or who inspired you to become an engineer?

My Grandad – he was an amazing creator (ask me about his gate). Other than that I wanted to do science really but my mother convinced me engineering might suit me better – parents are always right.

If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?

I like to think I could be an explorer

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be?

(i) Happiness for me (ii) Make others happy (iii) Lifetime supply of Nutella

Tell us a joke.

My sense of humour is terribly weird…I’m not sure you’d enjoy my jokes!!

Other stuff

Work photos:

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