MTU team wins Student Engineer of the Year for cervical check-up device

4 Nov 2022

MTU students Sean O’Shea, Mary O’Riordan and Andy Leahy. Image: Julien Behal Photography

Tulipa, a device developed by MTU Cork students, aims to make cervical cancer check-ups more comfortable.

The team behind a medical device designed to make cervical cancer examinations more comfortable and increase detection rates has been awarded the Siemens Innovative Student Engineer of the Year Award 2022 by Engineers Ireland.

Eight fourth-year students at Munster Technological University (MTU) Cork were recognised for their development of the device, named Tulipa, which has the “potential to transform the lives of women” in Ireland and abroad.

Tulipa is a modern take on the conventional vaginal speculum. Developed with both patient and practitioner in mind, Tulipa aims to restore comfort, reduce fear and increase attendance of cervical cancer check-ups.

The device also aims to provide a sterile solution for vaginal speculums in developing countries.

The winning team included Mary O’Riordan, Daineadh Power, Sean O’Shea, Eoin McGrath, Joe O’Reilly, Andy Leahy, Ali Rezk and Jamie O’Hanlon. They study mechanical and biomedical engineering at MTU, which was established early last year after merging Cork Institute of Technology and IT Tralee.

“We would like to thank both Siemens and Engineers Ireland for recognising our hard work and the potential of this medical device,” O’Riordan said on behalf of the team.

“We look forward to bringing this product to the next stage of development and we hope that Tulipa will soon play a key role in combatting cervical cancer globally.”

The other finalists were Aine Kane from Atlantic Technological University Galway and Sam French, Beverly Jones, Olin Hennessy, Harry Sweetnam, Philip Healy, Niall Marley, Dylan Hogan and Ben Donovan from MTU Cork.

Kane’s project was on endosteal dental implants with cellular architecture, while the second MTU Cork group developed a product called Honeyroam to help combat the loss of bees by bringing beehives and colonies online.

The winners were announced yesterday evening (3 November) at the 2022 Siemens Innovative Student Engineer of the Year Award final at Engineers Ireland’s headquarters in Ballsbridge, Dublin.

“This innovative device [Tulipa] has the potential to transform the lives of women globally and will help to support early medical intervention and diagnoses of cervical cancer worldwide,” said Joe Walsh, general manager of Siemens Ireland.

John Power, president of Engineers Ireland, added that the projects showcased in the competition are “a testament to the talent and creativity that exists in our third-level engineering institutions”.

“Today’s engineering students will soon assume the role of Ireland’s future leaders and will be at the forefront of developing innovative and sustainable solutions for communities in Ireland and overseas.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic