Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Innovative Student Engineer Awards

Biomedical engineering is one of the growth areas of our profession in Ireland and indeed a major sector now driving national recovery and job creation. The National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) at NUIG (http://www.nuigalway.ie/) has an international reputation developing innovative diagnostic and therapeutic solutions to the healthcare challenges of our day.

I was pleased to present the Innovative Student Engineers Awards last Monday together with our sponsors SIEMENS (http://www.siemens.ie/index.asp). Fiona Griffin a native of Listowel Co Kerry studying at NUIG Biomedical Engineering School won the Innovative Student Engineer Award for level 8 students and the level 7 award went to Danny Allen, Patrick Byrnes and Richard Childs of Cork IT (http://www.cit.ie/) also for a biomedical project.
Innovative Student Engineer of the Year 2011 Fiona Griffin from NUI Galway pictured with Michael O'Connor from Siemens and P J Rudden, President of Engineers Ireland
This was the 15th year of the awards which have been generously sponsored by SIEMENS for the last 13 years and represented by Michael O'Connor Head of Corporate Communications and Marketing.

The shortlisted entries in both level catagories were all fascinating and thus I didn't envy the task of the three Judges all of whom were Chartered Engineers led by Wilf Higgins formerly of the Health Services Executive assisted by Dermot O'Dwyer Lecturer in TCD Engineering School and Niall English MD of Futura Design.

Fiona's project which was really amazing was the development of a transcatheter valve as a stent into the mitral value which regulates blood flow from the auricle to the ventricle of the heart. The catheter is inserted into the artery through an incision in the upper leg and threaded through the artery to the heart.

This procedure which takes about 1 week recovery period in hospital replaces an open heart surgery procedure with greatly increased risk of infection, the temporary cutting of the rib cage and some 4 to 6 months recovery period.
The Cork Institute of Technology project was similarly in the biomedical area on the subject of the 'Automation of Prosthetic Shoulder Stem Blasting' which they pioneered with biomedical firm Croom Precision Medical.

Other shortlisted projects included evaluation of a 6 stroke engine, office building energy consumption, design of post tensioned beams, pyrites in concrete and microgeneration - all of which are very topical submitted by Cork IT, DIT, Athlone IT, NUIG and Sligo IT.

Speaking at the presentation of the awards, I emphasised the importance of the modern engineer having a combination of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communications skills. I encouraged the students to further look at the commercial viability of their projects.

All in all a very exciting day for the students, their parents and teachers all of whom deserve great credit. Also deserving of great praise is Margie McCarthy Director of Membership together with Shirley McDonald and Julie Goggins who conducted the day with great assurance and maximum comfort to the students.

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