Sustainable Energy Engineering – An insight into John Frister’s Work Experience at 3cea during Coronavirus

John Frister, a Sustainable Energy Engineering Student from WIT, recently completed his work placement with 3 Counties Energy Agency. We were very fortunate to be in a position to deliver John’s work experience virtually as many employers had to cancel or postpone work placements for students due to the global pandemic. We’ve asked John to share his experiences and challenges throughout his work placement journey.

John Frister, BEng (Hons) in Sustainable Energy Engineering – WIT

  1. How did you first hear about 3cea and what made you apply for your placement with us?

I had heard of CKEA previously through my work as a plumber but only discovered exactly what 3cea does when we started having lectures with Paddy Phelan in WIT. The idea of working to help people in the area improve their energy efficiency and quality of life appealed to me. I felt that having some insight into programmes and schemes such as Deep Retrofit, SEC, BEC and others would be an important part of understanding where Ireland is currently in regard to energy, as well as where we hope to be in the future.

  1. How long was your placement and what were your main tasks?

As part of my course, I was required to complete a mandatory minimum of 12 weeks industry work placement. However, the more experience I can gain at this stage in my education, the better. So, when the opportunity arose to extend my placement to 28 weeks, I was eager to take it. During this time, my main tasks included working on an Energy Master Plan for the Sustainable Energy Communities in Co. Wicklow, and M&V for the BEC scheme for 2019. I also had the opportunity to help out in a small way with Deep Retrofit and I was fortunate enough to be able to assist some of the more senior engineers with some energy audits, both domestic and non-domestic.

  1. Highlight of your placement?

With my placement being mostly from home, I would have to say that the most memorable day was when I got to out on site and carry out energy audits in Co. Wicklow. It may not have been the day I learned the most, or achieved something great, but it was the day I will remember best. It was after 17 weeks of work from home and it felt great to be on site and meeting with the people for whom we were doing all this work. It validated everything I was doing in my home office and gave me renewed energy to continue.

  1. The main challenges you faced during your placement?

The biggest challenge for me was learning how to work from home in a job I was very new to. In my second week, the lockdown restrictions came into effect and we were all asked to work from home. I still had very little understanding of what I was doing and how to do it. It was quite daunting, but I learned the value of consistent communication. With the help of the team at 3cea, I was able to understand what I was being asked to do, and to carry out those tasks.

  1. If you could change anything about the placement or the organisation, what would you change?

I would have loved to have had the opportunity to spend more time with the team at 3cea. In the short time I spent with them, everyone was very welcoming, and I got the feeling that I could learn a lot at this company. With the lockdown requiring everyone to work from home, I never really got the chance to get to know everyone a bit better. I feel as though the lessons and information one picks up form listening and chatting to team members was something I missed out on.

  1. What specifically did you like about working here?

I loved the type of work that 3cea does! Working to help other people, communities and businesses improve their energy efficiency, their community, and do their bit to help the environment is very rewarding work. The few opportunities I had to visit sites and meet with beneficiaries/homeowners/business owners highlighted the value for what 3cea does. People want to improve their energy efficiency, but most people don’t know where to start. 3cea has a team that can provide assistance to these people and help them move forward with their projects.

  1. What will you miss the most?

I will miss being involved in something. I may not have had a full overview of the projects I worked on, but I certainly felt as though I was part of something. Something that I believe in and am happy to work on, even in a small way.

  1. Would you recommend 3cea for future students?

I would definitely recommend 3cea to students doing placement. It is important for an energy engineer to have an understanding of how the system works. From policy making, to government funded schemes and local supports, as well as projects on a European level, 3cea offers an opportunity to experience this side of the job. It was a very interesting time and I learned more than I could have hoped to during my time.

  1. Where do you see yourself going next? Would you like to pursue the area of energy engineering as a possible career?

It is hard to say with certainty where I see myself in the future. While I can say that I will continue as an energy engineer, the scope of that title is still very wide. My time at 3cea has given me valuable industry experience that will play a big part in any future decisions regarding career direction. For now, I am focused on completing my final year in WIT and putting myself in the best possible position for employment next summer. I want to say thank you to everyone at 3cea for welcoming me and helping me throughout my time. It has been a pleasure working with all of you. Thank you.


We would like to take this opportunity and thank John for his commitment and hard work over the challenging summer months and we wish him the very best of luck with his future endeavors! Thank you 🙏


At 3cea, we offer a unique opportunity for students who are studying for related degrees and looking to get a taste of what it’s like to work in professional services. Our work placement programme offers a great opportunity to upskill yourself, see behind the scenes of our day-to-day work and decide whether a career in energy engineering and project management is for you.

Visit our careers page and find out more about our programmes to help you achieve your career goals.