Three newly qualified Irish engineers will travel to Kenya later this year after winning an engineering competition focused on developing creative solutions to real-life development projects for Kenyan communities.
Thomas Carrigg from Dún Laoghaire, Brendan Beattie from Rathmines and Seán Byrne from Greystones have all spent the last four years at DIT Bolton Street studying civil engineering. The graduates scooped the top prize for their competition entry, a mechanism that condenses air into water.
‘Where there is no Engineer’ is organised by DIT lecturers Liam McCarton and Sean Ó Hogan, with students from DIT, UCD and UCC taking part. It is supported by Engineers Ireland, Engineers Without Borders, Concern Worldwide, Irish Aid and Environmental Sustainability and Health Institute.
[caption id="attachment_17972" align="alignright" width="300"] (L-r): Helema Guy and Kula Roba with some of their sheep at a Concern Worldwide off-take programme in the village of Sidama in the Badasa locality of northern Kenya[/caption]
Tánaiste Joan Burton launched the prize-giving event and commended the opportunity the competition offered students to “design creative and sustainable solutions for real and very pressing developmental issues”.
She added: “The programme demands critical and creative thinking to create change and to find sustainable solutions across a range of themes.”
The winning project is a modified version of a system originally developed in Australia for the purpose of irrigation.
“We found that in Kenya a high volume of the water available had already been tapped to near capacity and much of this was sub quality,” said Carrigg.
“For this reason we decided to focus on finding a new water source and began to look at the possibility of building a machine that takes water from the air. It draws in humid air, pumps it underground so as to cool it and condense the water vapour, and the water can then be used for irrigation purposes and as drinking water,” explained Carrigg.
[caption id="attachment_17973" align="alignright" width="300"] Gerry Tobin, Davies; Liam McCarton , Development Technology Research Group, DIT; Prof Brian Norton, DIT president[/caption]
“We decided to use wind power to drive the system rather than solar energy because we wanted to create a simpler and more maintenance-free system. By removing electrical components and creating a mechanical system it reduced the technical knowledge that would be required for the system to be installed and maintained, as well as reducing the overall cost,” added Byrne.
The three students plan to build their design in Dublin and then assemble it when they arrive in Marsabit, Kenya. The finished design will stand three metres high and go two metres into the ground.
“Under ideal conditions it is hoped the mechanism will produce 157 litres of water a day, and according to World Health Organisation figures that is enough water for 28 people per day,” said Beattie.
Before heading out to Kenya the students plan to install two of the mechanisms at the DIT campus in Grangegorman. They estimate that it will cost €264 to build each unit.
Davies Group, whose chairman is Gerry Tobin, is sponsoring the team to travel to Kenya.