Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) unveiled its inaugural Dr Niamh Shaw Award at an event that also hosted its annual Peter Rice Medal award.

The institute was extremely honoured on the day to have Dr Niamh Shaw on campus who gave a keynote speech. From Dundalk, she is an Irish engineer, scientist, writer and performer, and recently voted one of Ireland’s leading science communicators and STEAM specialists.

L-R: Dr Niamh Shaw; Seamus O'Grady, award winner; Pat McCormick.

Dr Shaw believes in ‘Dreaming Big’ and she is currently on a mission to get to space. At the event she gave a phenomenal speech which was immensely inspiring for all the attendees.

The inaugural Dr Niamh Shaw, PhD Award sponsored by Engineers Ireland North East Region was awarded this year to Seamus O'Grady. His award-winning project was based on 'waste-water treatment' in the Carlingford area.

Colin McGuinness, left, Peter Rice Medal Winner, with Pat McCormick.

Solar tracking systems

O'Grady expertly demonstrated an investigation into a relevant real world engineering challenge that impacts a community within the North East Region. Other finalists of this award included Cryslen Gabrielle Soares De Silva for her project on solar tracking systems. 

Dr Shaw said: “I’m so honoured that DkIT and Engineers Ireland North East Branch created an award in my name to acknowledge project excellence from their undergraduate engineering students. And it was so cool to present the award at their project event. Thank you DkIT!”

This event also saw DkIT student Colin McGuiness being awarded the Peter Rice medal award. An engineering graduate who studied part-time in DkIT, he won this prestigious award for his project on 'Carbon fibre reinforced polymer used in concrete beams'.

McGuiness’s project demonstrated an in-depth investigation into materials and physical reactions through theory and experimental validation. Other finalists of this award included Ewan Yiik Tung Sia for his project LIDAR based obstacle detection.

The annual Peter Rice Medal Award, which is also sponsored by Engineers Ireland North East Region, honours the renowned Dundalk-born engineer Peter Rice who worked for Ove Arup on major global projects such as the Centre Pompidou, Lloyd’s of London, the Louvre Pyramid and Sydney Opera House.

The judging panel for the awards consisted of Breen Jackson, Engineers Ireland North East Region committee member, Peter Nowak, a previous winner of the Peter Rice competition in 2020, with special thanks to Sean McCarthy and the Engineers Ireland North East Region committee.

Dr Breda Brennan, head of School of Engineering, DkIT, said: “These awards are extremely important for us as an Institute as the enable us to highlight the quality of engineering education in DkIT. This event is a great opportunity for students to showcase their hard work. This year we were delighted to introduce the Dr Niamh Shaw Award alongside our Annual Peter Rice Medal Award and we were absolutely delighted to welcome Niamh on campus and have her give the keynote address on the day.”

Thanks to Pat McCormick who was master of ceremonies at the event; he is the chair of Engineers Ireland North East Region and was supported by Maryellen Kelledy who is vice chair. The event was proudly sponsored by Engineers Ireland North East Region and the DkIT School of Engineering.