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Noel Joyce - Irish Student Award Winner

Thursday, 5 November 2009

29 year old Irish student Noel Joyce is set to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of disabled people with a hi tech new braking system for wheelchairs.

Yesterday the student from Co. Offaly was presented with the prestigious 2009 all Ireland James Dyson Design Award at the Tullamore Court Hotel in Offaly for this invention.

Noel was selected as the all-Ireland winner for his invention - a hydraulic braking system for wheelchairs.

Noel, who studies design at Carlow IT, was confined to a wheelchair following a devastating mountain biking accident which left him paralysed from the chest down and ended his career in the Defence Forces.

As a wheelchair user, Noel found the existing braking system on his wheelchair too awkward and decided to solve the problem. His Ergostop Wheelchair Brake uses a hydraulic braking system, which requires less strength, effort and time to employ the brakes.

Noel has also made the top 15 shortlist for the global award - the first time an Irish student has made it this far - and a major achievement, considering there were over 400 hi-tech designs entered from across the world.

Making the top 15 resulted in major media attention across Ireland, Irish company Stira heard about his design and made contact with him to get the design into production a few months ago. Once the invention is on sale, this is likely to result in significant jobs - and all involved are from Ireland.

Noel received his award as part of Design Ireland Week's Student Creativity Day, which has moved outside Dublin this year for the very first time - to celebrate Noel's success in his home town of Tullamore.

100 third level design students traveled from across Ireland to celebrate Noel's achievement and to take part in the Design Workshop hosted by a Dyson Design Engineer flying in especially for the occasion.

What happened on the day
The students took part in a Design workshop and design products in groups advised by the Dyson Design Engineer - who believe it or not is a former winner of the Irish James Dyson Award - he invented a lightweight cast for broken limbs in 2004 and became the first winner of the award. James Dyson was so impressed by him that he offered him a job working alongside him.

The event coincided with a seminar and 2-day exhibition on Design in Business run by Design Hub, the company which Noel Joyce, the winner of the 2009 Dyson Student Design Award, directs.

The event entitled The Business Of Design (Capitilise on Creativity) is aimed at businesses and companies in the midlands. The group seek to promote design as a problem solving utility and to encourage innovation in Irish industry.

Designhub ties together several disciplines of design to give potential clients the best options and to create a customized design program for individuals. The group's disciplines are Product Design, Graphic Design, Interior Design and Architecture and Web Design.

When should the product be on sale?
Hopefully early next year. Stira, (which is a successful attic stair making company) have got behind the design over the summer months and they are backing me. Stira have a sister company called Peller Technologies which manufactured a propulsion system for wheelchairs and they kind of needed a breaking system. They were interested in the design.

Who is Stira?
Stirs is a LTD company that produces folding stairs for attics. They have been established since 1982 and are a hugely successful company. Expansion of the company product over the past decade has come to include sales in England, Wales, Scotland and the U.S.

What is the James Dyson Award?
The James Dyson Award is an international design award that celebrates, encourages and inspires the next generation of design engineers. It's run by the James Dyson Foundation, James Dyson's charitable trust, as part of its mission to inspire young people about design engineering.
Put simply; design something that solves a problem

The Prize
There will be one winner of the James Dyson Award who will receive:
. £10,000 cash
. A James Dyson Award trophy
. £10,000 cash (or equipment up to the value of £10,000) to student's design engineering department to fund design engineering education projects
. Inclusion in the James Dyson Foundation's publicity campaign including, but not limited to, placement on the James Dyson Award website
Monetary prizes will be converted into the winner's local currency at the current exchange rate at the time of announcing the winner. There will also be a national winner (voted for by the public) in each of the participating countries who will receive a James Dyson Award Trophy.

Who can enter?
The James Dyson Award is open to product design, industrial design and engineering university level students (or graduates within 3 years of graduation) who have studied in the following countries:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK, and USA.