Engineers Ireland: Cork student takes top prize for unique ‘medi-pod’

Enterprising students develop solutions to problems faced by industry and society alike

Engineers Ireland Level 7 winners were: (from left) Sligo IT’s Ruairí McGee, Niall McHale, Gary Lyons and Anthony Mannion. Photograph: Naoise Culhane

Engineers Ireland Level 7 winners were: (from left) Sligo IT’s Ruairí McGee, Niall McHale, Gary Lyons and Anthony Mannion. Photograph: Naoise Culhane

Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 01:00

The Engineers Ireland Innovative Student of the Year Award for 2014 has gone to a project offering a solution to the transportation of critical medical supplies over long distances and another which offers a more efficient way of harvesting willow for use as a renewable energy source.

James King, a student at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and a native of Carrigaline, Co Cork, took first prize in the Level 8 category for his “Drone Compatible Medical Transportation Pod”. The unique “medi-pod” is designed to deliver critical medical supplies such as blood and organs, over large distances and to remote, inaccessible, possibly war-torn areas via aerial drone. There is currently no device like this on the market.

Ruairí McGee, Anthony Mannion, Gary Lyons and Niall McHale from IT Sligo won the Level 7 category for their willow harvester prototype project which involved the design, fabrication, testing and analysis of a new device for whole stem willow harvesting.

Run by Engineers Ireland and sponsored by Siemens the Innovative Student Engineer of the Year Awards aims to promote and showcase excellence in engineering degrees across Ireland. Final-year students of Level 8 and Level 7 engineering degree programmes, accredited by Engineers Ireland, are eligible to enter and the competition is judged on the merit of final year projects. The winners receive an Engineers Ireland Excellence Award trophy, the title of 2014 Innovative Student of the Year, as well as €1,500 prize money.

“I wish to congratulate all entrants, in particular the finalists, who are an example of the ingenuity and talent that exists in Ireland today,” says Engineers Ireland director general John Power. “Engineering is not only at the heart of our day-to-day lives but it is clear to see from the diverse range of projects entered this year that engineers play a vital role in many existing and developing industries in Ireland – from agriculture and automotive to technology and biomedical. Of the numerous job announcements over the past 12 months, many of these have been engineering opportunities. There continues to be real career options and demand for engineers of all backgrounds in Ireland. While there is an increase in the number of students opting for engineering at third level we still need more students choosing from the wide variety of engineering courses available to fulfil the employment needs of industry now and in the future.”

Level 8 winner James King got the idea for his project from conversations with his father who works for the ambulance service in London. “We were chatting about the difficulties in transporting blood or transplant organs through rush hour traffic in London; it’s almost impossible”, he recalls. “Then I did some research and found that 26 per cent of US combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan were potentially survivable if the right equipment and expertise had been available.”