Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) are delighted to report that the final year class of the Bachelor (Hons.) in Mechanical Engineering students together with lecturers Padraig McGuigan and Peter Ryan visited the Irish College Leuven, Belgium for an intense three-day programme that took the group to both Leuven and Brussels for a number of presentations, workshops, and tours.
The itinerary for the trip kicked off with a very interesting lecture on the growth of Artificial Intelligence and its applications by Prof. Jens Bürger. The group walked through the beautiful city of Leuven to visit ‘Health House’ to explore the future of healthcare. Through interactive exhibitions, the group were introduced to technologies that better enable medical doctors, therapists, and other care providers, to identify symptoms, perform diagnoses, carry out surgery, cure diseases, programme therapy and follow up patients’ progress. Trends in wearable sensors, bioelectronics, artificial intelligence, robotics and healthcare apps are combined to inspire students to conceive and implement novel integrated solutions that can be tested and used by patients and healthcare professionals. The students observed and experienced solutions developed by mechanical engineers, from 3D printing at the point of care, to advanced 3D planning, biomechanical analysis and personalised solutions which all contribute to improved health benefits.
On the second day of this exciting tour the students visited the ‘Parkwind’ facility who are jointly developing Oriel Windfarm with the ESB. This will be Ireland’s first fully operational offshore wind farm. Its turbines will add up to 375 megawatts in capacity to power approximately 300,000 households. The group were given an overview of the project which covers 24 km² in the Irish Sea 22 km off the coast of Dundalk, Ireland, as well as some of the challenges facing the sector. Additionally, future career opportunities for engineers on the project were detailed to the group.
Other highlights from day 2 included an overview of the different Master’s programmes in Engineering Technology available at the Group T Leuven Campus of KU Leuven. A short train journey and the group were able to visit the European Commission and listen to excellent presentations from Mr. Jan Papsch and Dr. Karsten Krause on the EU's approach to energy.
The final day of this educational visit commenced with a tour of ‘Living Tomorrow’, which is a neutral innovation platform that communicates about today, tomorrow and the future. It connects over 100 companies globally, enforcing the synergies between them. The projects make technological visions tangible into a realistic environment. It connects with professionals and consumers and asks them to interact with their own future in consumer- and market research programs.
The closing stop on the trip was a tour of Comate, an engineering company specialising in developing revolutionary and innovative products through from initial concept to final product. Past innovations include hydrogen panels, surgical tools, e-bike, grinding robot and many others. Comates CEO, Stefaan Motte, gave a captivating and inspiring talk to the group, highlighting the key steps that the company’s team of engineers and designers take to translate a clients’ problems or ideas into a market ready product.
The group from DkIT would like to thank David Grant CEO of the Irish College Leuven for coordinating the particulars of the tour and to Ryan McGuinness for all his help throughout this excellent educational trip which facilitated a peek into the future of engineering.