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Design@UL 2017 Design@UL 2017


University of Limerick’s Design@UL 2017 Open in Limerick City

Winner of the School of Architecture at University of Limerick Best Thesis Award, Rico Strinati from Limerick and Morgan Flynn, SAUL at the University of Limerick’s Design@UL 2017 opening in Limerick city centre. Photo: Oisin McHugh True Media

University of Limerick’s Design@UL 2017 opened on Tuesday in Limerick city centre. The exhibition is the culmination of the year’s work for the graduating students of architecture, product design and technology education. 

The work on display shows, how, through creative problem solving, real-world research and iterative processes students can develop solutions that address real needs, explore new technologies and potential futures, question perceptions and ultimately improve everyday experiences. 

Opening the Design@UL 2017 exhibition, UL President Dr Des Fitzgerald paid tribute to all those involved saying: “The diversity of product design, architecture and technology project themes brings primary research to the fore, investigating complex problems and developing innovative and entrepreneurial solutions to change our user experience paradigms. These range from water rescue devices, assistive systems for people with visual impairment, to mapping and display systems for firefighters, and even a product to improve your golf swing. The hard work and innovative thinking of the students are clearly evident in the work on display”. 



Design@UL 2017

Muireann McMahon, Course Director and Steve Murphy, Logitech Designer of the Year at the University of Limerick’s Design@UL 2017 opening in Limerick city centre. Photo: Oisin McHugh True Media

The Design@UL 2017 show is the first showcase of work under the new School of Design at UL. It demonstrates what can be achieved through interdisciplinary collaboration and offers a vision of change for design education and research in Ireland. 

Dr Adam de Eyto, head of UL’s School of Design said, “This showcase presents the highest quality student work which offers a range of ideas to shape our future”. 

The Design@UL 2017 exhibit was opened by Dr Des Fitzgerald with special guest Catherine MacEnri, from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. The exhibition is open to the public in the former Helene Modes building at 10 Roches Street, Limerick from 10am to 4pm daily from May 24until June 2. 

Winner of the School of Architecture at University of Limerick (SAUL) Best Thesis Award was Rico Strinati, from Limerick. Rico’s project examined the indigenous pebble dash row housing in Limerick and the phenomenon of DIY structures made to the rear gardens containing sheds, pigeon lofts and out houses. These DIY structures have an honesty and character which he transcribed into a broader community effort in the form of a trades school and community centre on the site of a former factory.  Rico’s proposal was a series of small buildings and exterior working spaces that tried to make a scale similar to the DIY structures relationships.  

Steve Murphy, Castletroy, Limerick was named Logitech Designer of the Year. His product NAVU is an advanced firefighter accountability system and personal communication aid. It works by monitoring the movements of a firefighter from the moment they enter a fire-fighting situation. These movements are transmitted wirelessly to the Entry Control Officer (ECO) overseeing the mission. The NAVU system projects the movement map onto the interior of the firefighter’s visor, along with other critical information such as remaining air levels, thermal imaging, location maps and important messages from the ECO. 

Ailish Reidy and Jack Leonard, both from Raheen, Limerick and Eoin McGrath from Newbridge, County Kildare were named runners up in this category. 

Ailish Reidy’s product RELAX is an anxiety and stress management system for young adults. It comprises of two wearable devices, an app and a data share system. The system uses a bluetooth connected module to track the electro dermal activity of the skin, the heart rate variability and breathing rates of the user. These bio signals give a clear indication of the user’s stress levels. The sensor module is placed in the breathing band or the wristband accessory. The app contains an interactive diary, guided breathing/meditation and an option to share progress with a medical professional to improve both personal and public health outcomes. 

Design@UL 2017

Jack Leonard, Limerick at the University of Limerick’s Design@UL 2017 opening in Limerick city centre. Photo: Oisin McHugh True Media

Eoin McGrath’s product VIA is an independent navigation system for people who are blind or visually impaired. An innovative cane allows users to create their own custom routes and travel these routes independently. The handle features an electronic braille pad that raises a section of the user’s route allowing them to feel their route as they walk along. VIA also uses an LED photodiode and a thermal imaging sensor that can alert the user of obstacles or people in their path. 

Jack Leonard developed Rapid Rescue, a swift water environment rescue device for professional rescue services. It is worn around the waist by the rescuer while they swim to a drowning casualty. During a rescue, the device is attached to the casualty under the arms and then inflated. This keeps the casualty afloat and therefore safe from immediate danger. 

Shane Cody of Nenagh, County Tipperary, was named the Enterprise Ireland Product Design Student Entrepreneur at Tuesday’s launch. Shane developed MANTA, a hydrofoil water exploration vessel, designed to provide safe and easy access to inland waterways. Its hybrid peddle and battery propulsion system affords users performance, efficiency and comfort. 

Ruaidhri Phelan of Menlo, Galway was runner up in this award category. Ruaidhri developed Wealth Watch, which aims to merge the benefits of cash and card in money management. Through a central hub, Wealth Watch allows users to set long-term and short-term savings goals, allocate budgets for days/weeks/months. The budget is then transferred to a wearable device that facilitates electronic payments whilst offering tactile feedback on remaining budget and expenditure. An accompanying app gives on-the-go control over spending and savings.

To find out more about Design@UL 2017, please click here.

To read more stories about the University of Limerick, please click here. 


Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.