Blind engineering graduate, David Sheehan pictured with the inaugural Students’ student award at the Bicycle Engineering Academy.
David Sheehan, a blind engineering graduate from the Bicycle Engineering Academy develops first fully inclusive cycling option in the country with his invention
A Blind Engineering Graduate of the Bicycle Engineering Academy (BEA) and Limerick man, David Sheehan, is in the final stages of testing his further-developed his prototype and first Irish-designed & manufactured cargo bicycle.
Having faced rejection from An Post with his prototype two years ago, the blind BEA graduate, is entering the final stages of testing with the first system for fully inclusive cycling in Ireland on the Limerick greenway with his evolving radar bicycle research & development enabling him to safely cycle solo 100% blind on a controlled stretch.
David learnt a fully transferable skill set utilising the design & hand manufacture of a tandem when studying at BEA which he rides today with a pilot.
The bicycle engineering academy is a pioneering Irish college that is the first full bicycle/active travel & engineering college that delivers traditional engineering qualifications in CAD, mechanical engineering, structural engineering & engineering science in a fully applied way with practical experimentation being at the centre of all lessons.
Marty Mannering of BEA noted wheel building being “highly regarded as a black art within the bicycle industry” saying a special skillset and focus is needed to excel in the subject.
“We had a student who would not take no for an answer and he is 100 per cent blind, he lost his eyesight when attacked in Limerick at the age of sixteen some thirty-five years ago. David now teaches wheel building in the academy on a part-time basis,” said Mr Mannering.
Taking a universal product like the bicycle/tricycle & dissecting it into engineering outcomes for the purpose of a teaching aid within engineering “is not rocket science, however at the same time genius,” the BEA believes.
“Students want to enjoy learning, everyone loves bicycles & when the two are married we get the desired attendance rates that are shocking the adult education system. We manage to obtain a 95 per cent attendance record throughout a full-time programme when the norm for adult education would be around 50 per cent at best,” explained the BEA.
“We have developed many prototypes in the academy for international clients, however in Ireland we are simply a college doing incredible things & yet to be recognised at the level that I have no doubt will happen in the very near future but we are delighted to back David with his goal.” explains Paul Ryan, manager of the BEA.
David was considered an exceptional student and was the winner of the inaugural Students’ student award.
“We have backed David with a tricycle, access to our academy, bicycle frame fabrication facilities, 3d CAD design systems, in-house expertise and anything else we can do in helping him achieve a goal to further develop an autonomous/Semi-autonomous tricycle to enable him to navigate safely a section of the Limerick greenway as a blind cyclist,” Paul added.
The BEA manager said the group has hopes to procure some funding: “now I would hope that funding or a sponsor can be located to take Davids’s dream to full fusion in conjunction with our support.”
The invention can be fitted to any bicycle once fully commissioned.
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