Well, it’s now been two weeks since the Mine for Life design brief judging panel came together to decide on the overall winner and today I can finally share the exciting news!
Back in March the judges met up to carefully go through all of the applications, shortlisting the five projects that had captured our imagination most and inviting these students to present their projects at the final, held at the RSA earlier this month. A busy day for everyone involved, both students and judges had traveled from across the UK to go through the finalist projects that addressed a wide range of issues; from a customisable game console to a Lymphedema healing bra.
After nearly three solid hours of presentations, exploring prototypes, asking questions and copious cups of coffee, the judges sat down to deliberate and decide on who would be the overall winner. All five finalists had done fantastically well to get this far and it was our job to decide which project stood out from the rest. I think it’s fair to say that it was a pretty close call, and I’m proud to announce (drum roll please!) that the overall winner was:
David Emmerson from Loughborough University whose project aimed to improve the sexual wellbeing of servicemen who have suffered the effects of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). David, a draughtsman for the Royal Engineers, had decided to study design and engineering to further and support his work, which he will be returning to shortly. Having had experience (through colleagues) of the devastating effects that IEDs can have, he was passionate about researching this area and finding ways to make a difference. Often a taboo subject, David decided to focus on helping people to maintain their sex lives post IED injury and went about researching this area and speaking to a range of stakeholders including Headley Court (Defence Medical Rehabilitation Unit) and Lovehoney, the lingerie and sex toy website. David will customise his design through the use of scanning technology and additive manufacture so that it fits well and comfortably. As overall winner, David will receive a £2000 cash award from Enabled by Design and Loughborough University (the brief setters) and the opportunity to have his project additively manufactured at Loughborough University.
Highly Commended (and a close second!) was James Langdon’s project from the University of Nottingham: Gentle Guider – customised dog harness for guide dogs for the blind. Having previously volunteered for the Guide Dogs charity working with blind and partially sighted people, James became very aware of the close relationship that people develop with their guide dogs and how important they can be in supporting people’s independence. Through shadowing someone living with a visual impairment (ethnographic research), James realised that the harness used on her guide dog was heavy and ill-fitting. Guide dog harnesses are currently only available in three sizes; small, medium and large and their heavy weight can lead to the harness digging in and even result in dogs being withdrawn because they don’t get on with the harness. The familiar design for the guide dog harness is around 80 years old and James’ project focused on developing a new lightweight, glow in the dark harness that is customised to each individual guide dog through the use of scanning technology and additive manufacture.
As runners up, James Langdon and Bradley Griffiths will both have the opportunity to have their projects additively manufactured at Loughborough University.
All of the finalists have now been informed of the results, so all that’s left to do is say a very big THANK YOU to everyone that took part and CONGRATULATIONS to all of the award winners who I’ll hopefully see at the RSA Student Design Awards Evening in July! : )
PS. I’ll do my very best to follow the development of the three award winners and keep you posted!