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Students' prototype solar-powered autoclave wins - Invent for the Planet

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Students' prototype solar-powered autoclave wins - Invent for the Planet

Off the Grid team wins the first European semi-finals pilot of Invent for the Planet (IFTP) 2024 for its affordable solar-powered autoclave

Five teams from the regional IFTP heats were hosted by ATU during the weekend semi-final


A student team called “Off The Grid” from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid has won the ATU-hosted European semi-finals of the 2024 international “Invent for the Planet” competition for developing an affordable solar-powered and self-sufficient autoclave that will enable access to safer surgeries for underdeveloped communities. The students are Luis Miguel Peña Suarez from Cruces , fourth year mechanical engineering; Paula Alamillos Dean from Córdoba, fourth year in a Double Degree in Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Design; Sofía Puche Moreno from Madrid, first year in a Double Degree in Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Design; Juan Diego Rodriguez Santiago from Huelva, first year double degree in electrical and electronics engineering; Vivian Monge Retana from for Costa Rica, electrical engineering degree student.

The team who will now go on to compete in the IFTP finals in France on 16 April (2024) described their prototype, saying: “We showcased a solar-power autoclave that takes 50 minutes to create steam and 20 minutes to sterilize. This design will help thousands of people in third world countries to have access to safe surgeries. We are not only happy and thankful for the chance to have worked among international students, but also thrilled to have had this opportunity to come together as a generation to try to change the world for the better. Our design of a solar-powered and self-sufficient autoclave will go towards helping underdeveloped communities to have access to safer surgeries”.

The student team were awarded a prize of €1000, sponsored by Trane Technologies — ThermoKing who also fully sponsored travel and accommodation expenses and €400 euro for each team, and all the meals during the weekend.

It was the first pilot semi-final to be hosted for the international competition in co-ordination with Texas A&M as the lead for IFTP. ATU School of Engineering hosted the teams including Fish Pass Filter team from Technical University of Cluj Napoca, Romania; Off the Grid AutoClave team from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid; Pure Flow team from Swansea University; Sand Bank Generator team from JAMK University of Applied Sciences and Metabolt team representing Ireland with six students from Atlantic Technological University, University of Galway, University College Cork, Munster Technological University and Technological University Dublin.

ATU President Dr Orla Flynn says: “My congratulations to all the European semi-finalists in the Invent for the Planet competition, recently hosted by Atlantic Technological University. We were particularly proud to see the competing Irish team with members drawn from five universities in Ireland – the future is certainly in good hands. Good luck in the final to the team from the Technical University of Madrid! I also want to acknowledge the sponsors Thermoking/Trane Technologies, and all the volunteers working behind the scenes to make this such a vibrant and uplifting event.” 

Organiser Dr Jack Saad, Fulbright Faculty Scholar, Texas A&M, and lecturer in Robotics at ATU Galway, says: “The European semi-finals in March was kindly sponsored by Trane Technologies — Thermo King whose support truly made a difference to each student participating. It was an enabling experience were the teams can make a real difference not only on their local regions but to feel that their generation can bond more and work together to come up with solutions for a better future.’’

Dr Araceli Martín, Delegate of International Relationships of the School of Civil Engineering, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) and winner team mentor, says: ‘All of us found this experience very fulfilling and exciting. The event has been very inspiring seeing the students in action using their imaginations as they wanted and hoped. Seeing their faces filled with joy, excitement, satisfaction and accomplishment was worth all the efforts to make this event come true.’’

The runner-up “Pure Flow” team from Swansea University comprised of Oskar Augustin from Germany, second year mechanical engineering student; Sean Calucag from Cardiff, third year Chemical Engineering student; Sanskar Aryal from Nepal, second Year Mechanical Engineering student; Harry Griffiths from Cardiff, second Year Mechanical Engineering; Francesca Jarvis from Pencoed, second year Mathematics and Computer Science student; Hywel Crawley from Herefordshire, second year mechanical engineering student.

The event took place during the weekend of 8 to 10 March. On Sunday, the ATU Global Office organised a cultural trip around Galway city for all the visiting students.

The student mentors were Dr Carine Gachon, ATU; Frank Kane, Marine Institute; Kelly Jordan, Swansea University; Joel Bowen, Swansea University; Alexandra Fodor, Technical University of Cluj Napoca; Dr Araceli Martín, UPM and Ruzhinskii Daniil, Jamk University.

The judging panel were Dr Aoife O’Brien, lecturer in Mathematics; Gail Quinn, HR Leader, Trane Technologies — Thermo King; Turlough Rafferty, Innovation Hub Operation Manager, ATU;  Colm Mitchell, Operation Manager, Thermo King and Oliver Mulryan, Mechanical and Industrial Head of Department, ATU.

Turlough Rafferty, Innovation Hub Operation Manager, ATU, says: “In the arena of innovation, where passion meets purpose, the semi-finals of Invent for the Planet (IFTP) Europe, sponsored by Trane Technologies, were a testament to the unwavering dedication and enthusiasm of the participating student teams to tackle many of the greatest problems facing the world today. With passion and professionalism, student teams from Finland, Ireland, Romania, Spain, and Wales presented ingenious solutions aligned with Sustainable Development Goals, spanning from promoting good health and wellbeing to ensuring clean water and sanitation, advancing affordable and clean energy, and nurturing life below sea level. Congratulations to the students from Technical University of Madrid who emerged as the winners in a very tight run competition”

For further information on programmes in the ATU Department of Industrial and Mechanical Engineering, please visit:  Click here for more information ... 

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