Current Engineering Student Aoife Doyle takes us on a trip around the Belfield Campus and explains some of her favourite hidden places

The campus of UCD is big. I could back that up with facts and metrics but judging by most of the comments of ‘Wow, it’s so big’ when people first visit the campus on a campus tour, I think it’s fairly agreed upon. My name is Aoife Doyle, I’m a 4th year student of Biomedical Engineering, and when I first got to UCD in the rainy September, it took awhile for me to adjust to the size. I had come from a secondary school of 200 people myself, so it was a tad shocking to suddenly be 1 of over 30,000 students (throwing in a few metrics for you anyway 😉). For example, if you decided to meet up somewhere, you’d have to be more specific (It turns out ‘I’m at the lake’ just won’t cut it).

It didn’t take me long to see UCD as the community that it is, but my own experience of starting college is for a future blog post, perhaps, if it’s what the fans demand. A fabulous part of having such a big campus is the way that, even four years in, I still find myself winding up in new places that sometimes seem like they’ve been hidden within the campus, and that’s what I want to discuss in this blog. No matter how much I think I know the campus, new situations bring new places. UCD is even built on mysterious tunnels, after all. Here’s a few places in campus that I came across during different college adventures;

The Secret Lake

I’ll begin with the obvious one, commonly known as the secret lake which is a bit of an oxymoron. There are two above-board lakes in UCD that have been accepted by cartographers far and wide to be included in the official maps; the main lake which is outside the James Joyce Library and the upper lake which is located outside the engineering building and was finished in 2013. For reasons unknown to myself, there also exists a black-market, under-the-counter lake that goes undocumented. It’s smaller I suppose, but it’s lovely and can be found if one were to frequent the woodland walk around the outskirts of the UCD island. (I hope it’s ok to talk about it publicly and this conspiracy doesn’t go all the way to the government level…)

The woodland walk, on which you may stumble upon the lake-who-shall-not-be-named. Photographer: Jonathan McGrath

Board Rooms in the O’Brien Centre for Science

Around most buildings on campus there are rooms dotted about which are either designated as student study rooms, or others that can be booked for private use, i.e. if someone was looking for a place to host a study group. The alternative, for us less organised folk, is to have a look around the O’Brien Centre for Science for open board rooms, which include tables and white-boards, or else classrooms/lecture halls that are finished being used for the day. For late nights in third year, myself and a few friends would use the board rooms to study together, which was more enjoyable than using study rooms albeit far less productive.

UCD O’Brien Centre for Science. Photographer: Jonathan McGrath

Coffee Room in Agriculture & Food Science Centre

Just as I’d imagine the board rooms in the Science building are not hidden places to Science students, I would definitely imagine the popular café in the Agriculture building is not a secret to Agriculture/Food Science students! But to this tea-loving engineer, the café was a great find… four years in! I’ll have to make up for lost tea-drinking time (they make it in a pot, it’s heart-warming).

The Innovation Academy

I think this one made the list partly because of the novelty of having to be buzzed in to enter! I came across the Innovation Academy (bottom floor of the O’Brien Centre for Science) in second year, because the group sometimes collaborates with ElecSoc, the electronic and electrical engineering society. As part of ElecSoc, I did 3D printing and Virtual Reality workshops there. I also went to see the Innovation Academy showcase last year. I believe the general idea is to connect students from different disciplines to work on science and technology projects of their own creation, or an ‘idea factory’ [2]. I’d recommend heading to an event held there, I’ve been impressed every time I’ve visited.


The Innovation Academy can be found behind this interesting feature. Photographer: Jonathan McGrath

If you would like to explore some of UCD Campus’ hidden gems why not join one of our UCD Student Ambassadors on a campus tour. You can book a campus tour here.