Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology International Golden Success for CIT

CIT’s StrydeTech Team Win Technology Gold Award at  Global Student Innovation Challenge 2019 at i-CREATe International Convention on Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Great Hall, Australian Parliament House, Canberra, Australia

At the Great Hall, Australian Parliament House, Canberra, Australia on August 29th 2019 at the Global Gala Awards Ceremony of the International Convention on Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology 2019, the Global Winner of the Technology Gold Award of the Global Student Innovation Challenge 2019 was announced as the StrydeTech team of Cork Institute of Technology. 

The Princess of Thailand – HRH Princess MAHA Chakri Sirindhorn of the Kingdom of Thailand – presented the StrydeTech multidisciplinary team, represented by Muireann Hickey and Kevin Hayes, with the prestigious Overall First Place Technology Gold Award at the glittering awards ceremony before a hugely appreciative international audience of medical experts and innovators in rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology.

A platform to encourage students

i-CREATe, the International Convention on Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology, was co-hosted in 2019 at the National Convention Centre in the Australian Capital Canberra by Assistive Technology Australia and Independent Living Charitable Trust New Zealand. 

The Global Student Innovation Challenge held at iCreate provides a platform to encourage students from all over the world to compete in developing creative and innovative devices or solutions to improve the quality of living of the elderly and people with disability. 

The global challenge GSIC showcases the talents and abilities of these students while providing an opportunity to work with clients and clinicians to develop these innovative ideas. GSIC also facilitates cooperation and networking among the students and gives them an opportunity to listen to speakers from across the world.

The unprecedented international success of Ireland and Cork Institute of Technology’s StrydeTech team is a quite remarkable global achievement for the CIT multidisciplinary developmental student team of Muireann Hickey (Team Leader and Biomedical Engineering Development), Kevin Hayes (Team Product Advancement Coordinator), Cian O’Leary (Team Mechanical Design Specialist) and Jonathan Mullane (Team Technological Design Specialist). 

The international achievement follows on earlier 2019 national achievement for the CIT StrydeTech team at the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design National Disability Authority Universal Design Grand Challenge Awards in the Radisson Blu Hotel Dublin on 23rd May 2019, where StrydeTech won the First Place National Award – the UDGC 2019 Enterprise Ireland Universal Design Commercialisation Award – with commercial feasibility grant access, the value of the funding up to €15,000.

The StrydeTech team were represented in Australia throughout the week of global competition, presentation and exhibition by Muireann Hickey (team leader) and Kevin Hayes (product advancement coordinator), supported by team mentor Professor Sean F. O’Leary. Equally important to achieved success has been the great contribution and support from Cork of StrydeTech team members Jonathan Mullane (team technological design specialist) and Cian O’Leary (team mechanical design specialist). 

Extremely high standards

The standard of the 48 international finalist teams at the global finals was extremely high with many advanced novel and most worthy rehabilitative and assistive devices developed by in many cases PhD and post-PhD research teams on display. 

Muireann and Kevin performed excellently throughout the intense week of global competition – in exhibition and prototype demonstration and question and answer to a very demanding and rigorous adjudication international panel of distinguished judges. 

StrydeTech’s excellent stand, featuring their working prototype, attracted continued and significant interest from the large and appreciative attendance at the International Convention on Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology. Muireann and Kevin demonstrated great passion and dedication and rose admirably to the challenge of competing at this esteemed level amongst the cream of the cream of postgraduate teams globally – a great testament and tribute to these worthy students. 

The StrydeTech product was lauded to great acclaim by the distinguished adjudication panel of international medical engineering / clinician experts for novelty and innovation in addressing a global need. 

A measure of this acclaim was that StrydeTech won not just the Overall First Place Technology Gold Award at the Great Hall, Australian Parliament House, but also won two further international convention awards – the Best Presentation Global Award and the Delegates Choice Global Award – earlier in the competition week. 

 StrydeTech has indeed won three significant awards at the Global Student Innovation Challenge 2019 in Canberra:

n The Overall First Place Gold Global Award presented at the Great Hall, Australian Parliament House by the Princess of Thailand – HRH Princess MAHA Chakri Sirindhorn of the Kingdom of Thailand

n The Best Presentation Global Award – a really quite remarkable achievement for Muireann and Kevin following an arduous 35 hour outward journey and under the bright lights of Australian National TV Live Recording during the Adjudication 

n The Delegates Choice Global Award –  This award has been emphasised by the organisers of the Global Student Innovation Challenge as a hugely significant award as it was viewed as the independent convention industrial / biomedical / clinician / healthcare delegate validation of the international judge’s gold award

Cork Institute of Technology and Ireland can be truly proud of the Stryde Tech team. Muireann and Kevin are a great credit to themselves, their families, their Institute and their country, performing to the highest standards at all times throughout this most exhausting and testing time at the Global Student Innovation Challenge 2019 at iCreate, the International Convention on Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology here in Canberra.

Huge interest in StrydaTech

There was huge interest in Canberra in Cork Institute of Technology’s and Ireland’s StrydeTech stand at the Global Student Innovation Challenge 2019. The stand was visited by HRH Princess MAHA Chakri Sirindhorn of the Kingdom of Thailand, the Irish Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, Mr Eamonn Robinson and Second Secretary, Harriet Sexton Morel and many other VIPs and distinguished guests.

The StrydeTech team has also over the week of the global finals forged great friendships with many of the 48 global finalist teams.

StrydeTech provides an advanced innovative novel technical solution to a global societal need in assistive technology and rehabilitation engineering.

The multi-disciplinary student StrydeTech team based on personal inspiration and motivation have developed their enablement project from concept through design iteration /optimisation to manufacture of a functional test prototype – a quite remarkable achievement for an undergraduate project. 

 The developing Stryde Tech mobility device helps people to get from the seated position independently, a feature absent from normal walking frames. The devices handles lower to the users seated waist height and raise to provide helpful upward force when standing up. 

Independently stand up

The core Stryde Tech concept encapsulates a mobility devices handles lowering to a user’s seated waist height allowing them to independently stand up from any type or height of chair. 

An iterative systematic design approach was adopted when developing the optimal design for the concepts requirements. Conceptual designs were generated by hand and by using CAD packages to develop the device in a structured manner. A full scale power driven prototype was manufactured to prove the concept. 

Biomechanical gait analysis and experimentation was conducted to test the real world suitability of this device. The successful testing demonstrates the reduction in ankle, hip and knee moments by 37%, 78% and 32%, respectively and forces in the ankle, hip and knee by 69%, 36% and 59%, respectively while standing up. 

The potential of a user powered device with a mechanism that required no power supply was also advanced from conception to the prototyping stages. The improved power driven design was then manufactured with a leadscrew mechanism providing the adjustment to the height of the handles. 

Throughout the design process, appropriate design calculations and advanced finite element analysis was undertaken to find suitable geometries and materials for this mobility device.

 The StrydeTech student team’s participation significantly advances Cork Institute of Technology and Ireland’s profile on the international stage. The short-listing and show-casing of Stryde Tech is a great achievement on the world stage for the students, their department, their institute and their country.

Embassy support

The Embassy of Ireland Canberra has been hugely supportive of the StrydeTech team throughout their visit to Canberra for the Global Student Innovation Challenge, iCreate International Convention on Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology. 

On arrival in Canberra, the StrydeTech team members Muireann Hickey and Kevin Hayes and mentor Professor Sean F. O’Leary were greatly honoured to be invited to the Embassy Residence to meet with Irish Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, Mr Eamonn Robinson and Second Secretary, Dr. Harriet Sexton Morel. 

The StrydeTech team were presented with Irish/Australian flag lapel badges, which the StrydeTech team and mentor wore with the greatest pride throughout the week of global competition, presentation and exhibition. 

The Embassy of Ireland’s great support, counsel and aid to the StrydeTech team continued throughout the global competition week in Canberra including VIP visits by Mr. Robinson and Dr. Sexton Morel to the very popular StrydeTech stand at the National Convention Centre and attendance and support at the iCreate Gala Awards Ceremony at the Great Hall, Australian Parliament House, where Her Royal Highness, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Kingdom of Thailand presented the Global Student Innovation Award First Place Technology Gold Award to CIT and Ireland’s StrydeTech team members Muireann Hickey and Kevin Hayes.

University Startup World Cup

Further international success in the field of Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology was achieved by Cork Institute of Technology multi-disciplinary MacGlas Team, who won the global USWC19 University Startup World Cup Contribution Award at the University Start Up World Cup 2019 Finals held in Copenhagen, Denmark.

MacGlas of Cork Institute of Technology, a Novel Vision Aid Development Company were represented by Team Leader Elaine Leahy and Design Lead David O’Donovan at the global finals. 

From 1,500 Business Plans submitted from 40 Countries to the University Startup World Cup 2019, CIT’s MacGlas Team were short-listed to just 40 Finalists for the Global Competition Finals in Copenhagen, Denmark, which took place from October 29th to November 1st 2019. 

MacGlas were the only Irish team short-listed at the University Startup World Cup Finals and represented their country and institute with the greatest honour and distinction throughout the week long finals in Denmark. 

The achievement of this global award – the USWC19 University Startup World Cup Contribution Award – is a quite remarkable result for the undergraduate multi-disciplinary team MacGlas. Elaine and David competed with great passion and belief in the hugely prestigious and highly competitive world cup, facing up against 40 international teams at Masters, PhD, and Post PhD levels from the most prestigious colleges worldwide and presenting projects at extremely high technical level and very advanced commercialisation stages.

World finalists

All 40 world cup finalists were indeed to an exceptional standard with remarkable groundbreaking novel work being undertaken to the highest levels in biomedical innovations and advancement.

Projects included a new wearable diagnostic sleeve combined with machine learning software for quantification of Parkinson’s symptoms, an automated 2D echocardiography software to help clinicians save time with AI, the global exclusive silk protein artificial bone and ligament consumables manufacturer, preventing catheter associated urinary tract infections with UVC light, artificial intelligence in diagnosis of diseases, the development, preparation and application of graphene, combined with internet+and smart and of course a novel vision aid for the western world’s leading cause of blindness – macular degeneration.

The University Startup World Cup is the leading university startup program and competition, where the most promising university talents, corporates, business professionals and entrepreneurs get together for a one-week program in Copenhagen. The goal is to co-create a platform for inspiration, development and knowledge sharing of sustainable business ideas.The United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals constituted the theme of this year’s University Start-up World Cup Finals.

 The 20 countries competing as global finalists in the University Startup World Cup Finals 2019 included:

Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, United States of America, Denmark, China, India, South Africa, Sweden, Estonia, Slovakia, Pakistan, Portugal, Romania, Ukraine, Democratic Republic of Congo, Finland, Lebanon, Lithuania and of course Ireland.

“MacGlas is a novel vision aid designed to help people suffering from Macular Degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in the western world, which results in the progressive loss of central vision. 

“By configuring and applying existing technologies in a new and innovative way to harness and optimally utilise the sufferer’s peripheral undamaged vision, MacGlas helps individuals regain everyday capabilities such as reading which have been made impossible by the genetic disease.” 

Throughout a very long and intense week of competition, Elaine and David displayed dedication, passion, ability and maturity well beyond their years and represented their team, institute and country with the greatest distinction and honour. 

 The achievement of the global award – the USWC19 University Startup World Cup Contribution Award – is a great success on the world stage for the students, their department, their institute and their country. 

Self-conceived products from CIT

The global award winning StrydeTech and MacGlas teams and novel devices initiated as student self-conceived products from the Cork Institute of Technology Innovative and New Product Development Laboratories programmes. 

The developed action-learning programmes brings multidisciplinary teams together to collaborate in conception, research, design, development, experimentation, validation, prototype production, proof of concept testing and commercialization of self-conceived and inspired novel products. 

Many of the emerging products and start-up companies while critically cognisant of commercial realities and practicalities, are also driven by student idealism towards the use of engineering, business and innovation to better mankind with many projects addressing global application transformative biomedical and societal needs and issues. 

7 principles of universal design

The application of the 7 principles of universal design – equitable use – flexibility in use – simple and intuitive use – perceptible information – tolerance for error – low physical effort – size and space for approach and use – as espoused by the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (CEUD) of the National Disability Authority has been central and crucial to the conception, development, optimization and advancement of the novel products. 

The promotion of universal design to students and staff in Cork Institute of Technology has indeed been driven, inspired and directed by the remarkable efforts and energy of the staff at CEUD and in particular Dr. Gerald Craddock Chief Executive Officer CEUD and Mr. Donal Rice Senior Advisor ICT CEUD.

Combining gender backgrounds

The forging together of student multidisciplinary teams based on universal design philosophy and practice from career streams and disciplines with traditionally and currently high proportions of male participation such as Mechanical Engineering and Accountancy with career streams and disciplines with traditionally and currently higher proportions of female participation such as Biomedical Engineering and Marketing /Management has harnessed a powerful and ground-breaking synergy between the genders.

This has had a hugely beneficial effect in inculcating an innovation / entrepreneurship ethos, mindset and skillset amongst these young people. 

The developed multidisciplinary programme actively promotes the role of women in engineering in general and specifically in relation to participation through leading roles throughout the innovative product development process. 

Indeed a very positive indication of the success of this proactive approach is that a high proportion of the team leaders and project managers elected by the multidisciplinary teams were women (including international / national award winning StrydeTech’s Muireann Hickey and MacGlas’s Elaine Leahy). 

The prevalence of women engineers in team leadership and project management roles has been a major driver and central component of the international/national success of these multidisciplinary teams.

Creating a critical mass

A continuous design core centred on universal design principles, a strong innovation ethos, product development from student concept to prototype manufacture and optimisation, multi-discipline teamwork, business plan development, communication and exhibition skill enhancement and a unique engineering education model have all combined to create a critical mass leading to the remarkable international and national successes over a sustained period of the students of CIT’s engineering and business degree courses.