Secondment host profile: Alcon

Posted: 16 May, 2023

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DOROTHY COFUND fellows are encouraged to undertake a non-academic secondment as part of their fellowship. Fellows are free to arrange secondments with any relevant organisation, in discussion with their supervisor. However, many organisations within Ireland have indicated an interest in acting as hosts. We will profile some of the potential secondment hosts here on the site, to help you learn more about some of the potential opportunities available. 

In this feature, we hear from Barry Walsh, Senior Principle Engineer (R&D) at Alcon. 

  • How would you describe Alcon’s work and remit to someone unfamiliar with your work?

Alcon Ireland is part of the global Alcon organisation. Alcon is the largest ophthalmology company in the world, employing >24,000 people at 24 Mfg/ R&D sites worldwide. Alcon develops, manufactures and supplies medical devices, therapeutics and consumables associated with all aspects of eye care from cataracts to dry eye. At the Cork site we produce intraocular lenses (IOLS) and delivery devices for cataract surgery. In addition we have extensive microbiology and chemistry labs utilising state of the art test methods to characterise materials used in the production process. On site we design and develop our mould tooling  and possess nanometre scale machining capability. We have a large R&D team which specialises in Design Transfer and Process Development. The DOROTHY fellow would work with this team.

  • Can you describe some of your current ongoing projects?

We are the site of choice for the launch of new advanced technology IOLs on the Clareon™ material platform and have multiple transfer projects ongoing at the moment. Each of these projects has specific process requirements that need R&D input for development, characterisation and qualification.

  • If a DOROTHY fellow were to undertake a secondment with you, are you able to give a sense of projects they may be working on? 

The DOROTHY fellow would integrate into the R&D team and be involved in process development activities which can range from optical metrology, monomer chemistry, materials processing, injection molding, automation and mold tool design. We also undertake collaborative projects with external university research groups within SFI centres or through EI Innovation Partnerships. In short there is a huge variety of technologies involved in the production of IOLs and the fellow will also gain knowledge on production ERP (Enterprise Resource Systems) systems such as SAP, the development of Bills of Materials and production planning.

  • How would a DOROTHY COFUND researcher working with Alcon benefit both Alcon and the fellow?

With the broad scope of work undertaken by the R&D team on site, an additional skillset, or enhancing an existing skillset, is always welcome. In addition, allowing Alcon access to the research network represented by the fellow helps us expand our connections to leading edge research in our field. Doing a secondment at Alcon will broaden the fellow’s own horizons by showing the career potential available at an organisation like ours, with a global reach and a significant R&D footprint.

  • What is most interesting about working with Alcon? 

The products we make are life changing, and I have seen products made on site at Cork significantly impact the lives of my own family members. This along with variety of technologies associated with making our products means every day is different and also fulfilling.

If you are interested in including a secondment with Alcon as part of your DOROTHY COFUND fellowship, you may want to begin discussion with Alcon, along with your main supervisor. Remember that successful fellows can also negotiate a secondment once their fellowship has begun.

Learn more about Alcon here.

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