Student engineer creates life-saving Medi-Pod for battlefield drones

9 Jun 2014

Pictured: Aiden Cawley, Siemens, student winner James King with his Medi-Pod and Shirley McDonald, Engineers Ireland

A pod designed to deliver critical medical supplies such as blood and organs over battlefields and the scene of natural disasters via aerial drone was the winning entry at this year’s Innovative Student Engineer of the Year Awards.

Entitled ‘Drone Compatible Medical Transportation Pod’, 17 year-old Cork Institute of Technology student James King’s project charts the conception and development of a transportation pod, christened ‘Medi-Pod’. 

King’s unique pod is designed to deliver critical medical supplies such as blood and organs, over large distances and to remote, inaccessible, natural disaster or war torn areas via aerial drone. There is currently no device like this on the market.

King won the Level 8 award at the Siemens-sponsored awards while Ruairi McGee, Anthony Mannion, Gary Lyons and Niall McHale a group of students from IT Sligo won the Level 7 category for their Willow Harvester Prototype. This project involved the design, fabrication, testing and analysis of a new prototype device for whole stem willow harvesting. The students’ concept results in a more efficient and low cost process to harvesting willow as a renewable energy source.

Clear demand for engineers in Ireland

“Engineering is not only at the heart of our day-to-day lives but it is clear to see from the diverse range of projects entered this year that engineers play a vital role in many existing and developing industries in Ireland – from agriculture and automotive to technology and biomedical,” Engineers Ireland director general John Power said.

“Of the numerous job announcements over the past 12 months, many of these have been engineering opportunities. 

“There continues to be real career options and demand for engineers of all backgrounds in Ireland.

“While there is an increase in the number of students opting for engineering at third level we still need more students choosing from the wide variety of engineering courses available to fulfil the employment needs of industry now and in the future,” Power added.

Aiden Cawley of Siemens said the 2014 entries again showed students’ ability to develop innovative solutions to challenges faced by industry and people in everyday society.

“The Innovative Student of the Year Award requires students to think creatively and develop new and improved devices, techniques and procedures.

“From health projects that explore improvements in breast cancer screening and transporting organs to war torn locations to innovations in farming equipment and the brewing process, this year’s entries exemplify original thinking, practical solutions and excellent technical competence,” Cawley said.

Other students who reached the Level 8 finals included Niall O’Murchú, Dublin Institute of Technology, Oisin Moore NUI Galway and Brian Hand, Cork Institute of Technology. In the Level 7 category David Coleman, Ciarán Duffy, David Acheson and Niall Hunt, Cork Institute of Technology and Patrick Walsh, Mark O’Flynn and Shane O’Gorman, IT Sligo were shortlisted.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years