Smart solutions

On Thursday 26 May 2016, students from third-level colleges across Ireland presented their design projects at the third annual Universal Design Grand Challenge Awards ceremony in the Science Gallery, Dublin.

The awards are an initiative of the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design at the National Disability Authority, supported by Enterprise Ireland.

The theme of this year’s awards was “Solutions so smart they work for everyone”.

The People’s Choice award, which was voted on by audience members, went to Robbie Fryers and Talita Holzer Saad, from Trinity College Dublin, for their design “WayFinder” which is a navigational aid that makes safe, independent travel a possibility for all its users – including pre-teens, the elderly and those with an intellectual disability.

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The Judges Choice Award for Built Environment went to Megan Lee from Dublin institute of Technology for her design “Universal Student Accommodation”. The design is for student accommodation at the new DIT college campus in Grangegorman, Dublin and is based on the 7 principles of universal design.

The Judges Choice Award for Products and Services went to Greg Butler from the Dublin Institute of Technology for his design “Orb Organiser Alarm” which has the standard functions of an alarm clock with the added benefit of remote and time controlled plugs to trigger electrical devices when an alarm goes off. The product is aimed at people with limited mobility and poor organisational skills.

The Judges Choice Award for Technology went to Damien Dennehy from Cork IT for his Automatic Flood Defence Barrier which automatically detects and prevents flooding through standard domestic and commercial doorways. Damien also took the Enterprise Ireland “Universal Design Commercialisation Award”.

The National Disability Authority’s Chairperson Helen Guinan said:

“We were delighted to see the entries for this year’s Universal Design Grand Challenge Awards coming from such a wide range of disciplines: from product and industrial design, to mechanical engineering and architecture. The nine finalists demonstrate Universal Design is being taught more and more in third-level colleges and students are responding to the challenge of designing useful and beautiful solutions that benefit the widest range of people possible.”

David Flood from Enterprise Ireland added:

“Novel design thinking is an integral part of the research & innovation agenda supported by Enterprise Ireland. The UDGC is a great occasion to encourage the ambition of designers and researchers in Ireland’s third level who want to bring their ideas from the workshop to the marketplace. The UDGC Commercialisation Award gives the winner an opportunity to connect with business and market experts who will help to validate and develop their product concept.”