Congratulations to Evan Condon (5th Year) on being awarded a Silver Medal from the President’s Awards (Gaisce).
The Award Ceremony took place in Thomond Park on April 30th 2019 where Evan was presented with his medal by the CEO of Gaisce, Yvonne McKenna and by Marcus Horan, the former Munster Rugby player.
“I really enjoyed the awards programme, I feel I have acquired new skills and have become an active member of my community.
I worked on 4 key areas including Community Involvement (Certified Desmond College as a Fairtrade School), Personal Skill (Speech and Drama, Grade 10), Physical Recreation (Gym Work and Swimming) and I undertook an Adventure Journey (Hikes around the Kerry Area).
This has all helped me to further develop my self-esteem and has given me the confidence to unlock my full potential. I am very grateful for the opportunity presented to me via the President’s Award, and from my PAL leader, Miss Margaret O’Connor and look forward to pursuing the Gold Award at a later date“.
Jack O’Connor is one of the co-founders of Moyo Nua, an agricultural organization that takes its name from a combination of the word moyo, meaning life in the Malawian language of Chichewa, and nua, meaning new in Irish Gaelic. O’Connor isn’t a farmer—he’s an Irish city kid from Limerick—but the university sophomore has spent the past two years designing a seed planter with the hope of making farming in Malawi just a little bit easier.
O’Connor was still in high school when he watched the film ‘One Dollar a Day’, a documentary born out of a series of viral YouTube videos featuring American college students living in rural Guatemala. Watching the film, O’Connor says, “nearly struck me to the core.” For a city kid, thinking about life as a subsistence farmer kicked him into action.
He started researching rural agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa, and that led him to Malawi, a country the United Nation calls “one of the most climate-fragile countries in the world.” In Malawi, about 80% of the country’s food is produced by smallholder farmers, and O’Connor was moved to design something that could ease the physical demands of farm labor there.
There was a lot of trial and error along the way. “We just, honestly, started throwing out ideas [and] looking at previous models that existed in the world,” says the University of Limerick sophomore, describing the project’s early days back at his secondary school. Eventually, explains O’Connor, “we came up with this idea of an ergonomic seed planter to allow the user—in this case, a smallholder farmer—to plant seeds without having to bend over.”
O’Connor and classmate Diarmuid Curtin turned to a slew of experts—agronomists, mechanical engineers and experts in rural development all offered their advice on the planter’s design. The idea ended up winning the Science For Development Award at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in Dublin in 2017, which turned out to be pretty crucial, since it came with a trip to Malawi where, with the help of an organization called Self Help Africa, the Limerick kids were finally able to get the planter into the hands of Malawian farmers for field testing.
In Malawi, the farmers made a number of suggestions for improvement, like making the tool out of locally sourced materials like bamboo. In total, 18 farmers from Southern Malawi tested the planter. That feedback, along with input from 13 retirees who tested the tool back in Ireland, all helped to inform subsequent iterations of the design. They’re currently on prototype number three, with a patent pending.
The visit to Malawi was humbling for O’Connor. “We were chatting with the farmers…about the importance of their children being able to attend school and how this planter, by reducing labor intensity…would allow their kids to start going [to school]…So that really hit home with me because I never considered, until I was actually over there, that the reality for some children is that they have to sacrifice education for sustenance.”
O’Connor enrolled at the University of Limerick after graduation from secondary school, and he kept working on the planter. At the university, the project took on a whole new life, as O’Connor met students like Catherine Hallinan, who felt herself immediately compelled to join Moyo Nua and work on the ergonomic planter. “[Jack] was telling me about it…and I convinced him to bring it in [to the school],” says Hallinan, excitedly. She has also been interested in finding ways to expand Moyo Nua’s focus, like offering social media training to young business students in Malawi.
This week, James Taylor speaks to second two of our four Second Level National Finalists in the ESB Networks National Safety Challenge.
The ESB Networks National Safety Challenge is proudly supported by Safe Family Farms, a joint initiative between ESB Networks and The Irish Farmers Journal, to raise awareness and make farms a safer place for all.
Students: Kayla McMahon and Fiona Kelly Year: Transition Year Teacher: Mr. Donal Enright Idea: Eye in the Cab
Kayla McMahon and Fiona Kelly from Desmond College have developed “Eye in the Cab”, a device that you attach in the cab of a tractor. It detects the angle that the tractor is at and alerts the farmer if they are operating at a dangerous angle.
“So what it does is it detects what angle that the tractor is at, but while doing that then it also has a GPS device inside in it so that it allows you to locate where exactly where the tractor is so when it reaches a certain point it will send a text message to the In Case of Emergency (ICE) contact of the person in the tractor.
Using a gyro sensor, GPS modules, and an Auto Dialler, we built a device that recognises the angle of the tractor. Gyro sensors, also known as angular rate sensors, are devices that sense angular velocity.
With the aid of an internal siren, it can alert the driver once a tractor has reached 35-degree tilt and can alter the driver’s ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact via an STMicroelectronics SPBTLE-RF Bluetooth Chip 4.1 auto-dialler, once the vehicle has reached or exceeded 45 degrees.
The “Eye in the Cab” device can be fixed to the inside of the cab via magnets. It is also equipped with an emergency button on the front panel that the driver can press in an emergency.
Because it is portable, the driver can take the unit with them and attached to their belt and if they are involved in an accident involving animals, machinery or overcome by slurry fumes.”
“Agriculture is a huge part of the lives of the people in Ireland. The fatality rate in agriculture is far higher than any other economic sector.
A large proportion of all fatal workplace accidents occur in agriculture, even though only a small number of people are employed in farming. According to research carried out by the Health & Safety Authority (HSA), machinery related accidents make up for 50% of farm fatalities.
Factors that influence the probability of vehicles tipping over are the size, weight, angle of incline, terrain, front and back loaders as well as tyre size and pressure, the multiplicity of factor made it difficult for the driver, our device will serve as an early mechanism and help reduce accidents.
However, research informs us that when a tractor reaches an angle of 36.780 it has a 75% chance of rolling over and at 450, it has a 100% chance.”
What it would mean to win
“To win the ESB Networks National Safety challenge it would mean a lot to us to know that like even in our young age we could potentially save lives with an idea and project we came up with ourselves and would mean a lot to us.
It would be a massive achievement for us and our school.”
50 different mini-companies from 16 different schools across Limerick City & County descended on the South Court Hotel on March 26th for the annual Limerick Enterprise Office – Student Enterprise Awards.
Desmond College was represented by 1st Years, Tara Danaher & Josh Dore who won 2nd place in the Junior Section with “The Empty Chair Company”.
Aine Murphy, Lauren Ambrose, and Lucy Flaherty (all second years) won 1st Place in the Intermediate Section with their company “Hy Geeenie”.
TY students, Oisin O’Sullivan, and Conor Fox, achieved a Highly Commended in the Senior Section with “Sigigraph” and Melissa Flaherty and Ciara Brouder won 1st place in the senior section with “Safety Harness Attachment”.
Megan Roma and Victoria Brouder also took park with their company “6Teen Skincare”.
1st Place winners go on to represent Limerick in the All Ireland Student Enterprise Finals in Croke Park in May.
Aine Murphy, Lauren Ambrose and Lucy Flaherty all second year students won 1st Place in the Intermediate Section with their company Hy Geeenie at Student Enterprise 2019
Oisin O’Sullivan and Conor Fox achieved a Highly Commended in the Senior Section with ‘Sigigraph’ at Student Enterprise 2019
Megan Roma and Victoria Brouder, Transition Year students at Student Enterprise 2019
Melissa Flaherty and Ciara Brouder won 1st place in the senior section with “Safety Harness Attachment” at Student Enterprise 2019
The Bank of Ireland TY academy helps students to develop their critical thinking, communication, problem-solving skills and to provide practical guidance using the lean canvas methodology to start up their own business.
Desmond College had five transition Years selected to take part in the Limerick/Clare/Tipperary Regional Round of the TY Academy: Oisin O’Sullivan, Dylan O’Shea, Melissa Flaherty, Fiona Kelly, and Victoria Brouder.
As part of the academy, students work on a business problem with students from other schools. Over the course of three days, they explore the areas of enterprise and innovation, and learn how to pitch their proposals in a “Dragon’s Den” environment.
The Lean Canvas methodology used by many start-up companies provides students with the tools necessary to generate their business plan and launch their idea. Students can also learn how to build a website or develop an app.
The All-Ireland finals will take place on the 9th of May in Dublin and Limerick/Clare/Tipperary will be represented by a team of 4 comprising of two students from Desmond College, Fiona Kelly, and Dylan O’Shea.
An honourable mention was reserved for “Man of the Match” or the hardest working student of the week, Oisin O’Sullivan, also from Desmond College.
Congratulation to the five students for representing our school with pride and distinction, many thanks to all the mentors who assisted the students during the week with a special mention to Bank of Ireland for sponsoring and organising it.
Oisin O’Sullivan, Dylan O’Shea, Melissa Flaherty, Fiona Kelly and Victoria Brouder at the Bank of Ireland TY Academy
Oisin O’Sullivan ‘Man of the Match’ at the Bank of Ireland TY Academy
Fiona Kelly and Dylan O’Shea through to the All Ireland Final of the Bank of Ireland TY Academy taking place on 9th May.
Congratulations to Ciara Brouder, Transition Year student in Desmond College who was presented with a Certificate of Achievement at the Business Studies Awards Ceremony hosted by UL’s Kemmy Business School and the Business Studies Teachers Association of Ireland (BSTAI). The award recognises those who have achieved an A Grade in Higher Level Business Studies at Junior Certificate level in 2018
Ciara Brouder receiving her Certificate of Achievement at the Business Studies Awards Ceremony hosted by UL’s Kemmy Business School and the Business Studies Teachers Association of Ireland (BSTAI)
Students of the 12 schools from Limerick that participated in the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2019, including the 13 students from Desmond College were guests in Analog Devices at their European headquarters in Raheen Business Park on Wednesday 6th of February.
There was a panel of past participants of the exhibition who offered career and subject choice advice to the students. The event was organised by Brian O’Meara and Annie O’Sullivan who were joined on the night by two Vice Presidents of Analog Devices.
Desmond College BT Young Scientist and Technology 2019 finalists pictured at a host event organised by Analog Devices