An Irish student has won the overall award at the European Student Innovation finals being held in Reims, France.
Kieran O’Callaghan, a PhD student at Cork Institute of Technology, was declared the winner last night among a field of 42 finalists from 28 countries. It is the first time the award has been won outright by an Irish student.
"I was surprised, given the level of competition, but I am absolutely thrilled," said Kieran who has exhibited a lifelong interest in mechanics, encouraged by his father, a former staff member at CIT.
He admits to coming a long way since "mucking about in my dad’s garage".
Kieran’s project involved designing and developing an obstacle detection and navigation aid for the visually impaired. He recognised the need for such a device after working with both the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind and the National Council for the Blind. Kieran realised visually impaired people had great difficulty navigating around doors, over steps, and detecting people and obstacles.
Kieran, 27, who holds a first-class honours degree in mechanical engineering, is studying for his doctorate at CIT.
"This is the best day of my life," said Kieran last night after enjoying a Champagne reception to toast his success. "It is a dream come true."
Michael Loftus, head of the engineering and science faculty at CIT, described the win as "a remarkable achievement by a remarkable student". "I could not be more delighted for Kieran. He is a very talented and very engaging young man with a lovely personality."