Thinking back on when I chose to do Product Design and Technology in UL - I really had no idea what to expect from Limerick, but 4 years later I know I made the right decision. Not just because I loved the course so much, but the actual University! The campus, the people and the city were better than anything I could have ever imagined. My name is Niamh Damery and I graduated from Product Design and Technology in the University of Limerick in 2020. The last 4 years at UL have been some of the best of my life and I can honestly say I will fondly look back on them in years to come. I am very sad to leave UL (especially to finish up during lockdown which was a bit anti-climactic), but I am grateful for all the time I had there.
I chose my course because I always loved making things and fixing things, and having studied art for my leaving cert it seemed like a very good fit. Although the course was testing at times and a lot of effort was needed, I can honestly say now I could never imagine doing anything else. The diversity of the projects and topics we designed throughout the course, with the mixture of group and solo projects gave us a really good set of skills to take with us into the working world.
In third year we were given the opportunity to either go on a work placement for 8 months or choose Erasmus in another university. I chose to do the latter and went on Erasmus to the University of Applied Sciences in the Hague in The Netherlands. This experience of working with different teaching methods and students from other countries really pushed my design thinking and developed my design skills even further.
In our fourth and final year we used all the skills we learned; from design thinking, visualisation, CAD, sketching and prototyping to develop our own product from start to finish for our final design product. This solo project started in October and ran until the end of the year and is completely up to the students to choose the topic. For this project I wanted to design something to do with beekeeping because at home my family have always kept hives. And so “Econooc” was born - the project I am most proud of in my four years of college. Econooc is a sustainable conservation beehive that is made from sustainable materials like mycelium (the root of mushrooms) and remoulded waste plastic. I was very lucky that with the help of my fellow students and input from lecturers alike I was awarded PDT Designer of the Year 2020 for this project. I then went on to enter and win the national leg of the James Dyson Awards*, coming in the top 20 internationally. This was a huge win in my eyes, these awards are so highly regarded in the world of product design and technology. They also mean I have the ability to put funding into actually manufacturing the hive and have the best possible chance to start my own business after college. With the success of the Econooc, it really has put the project on the international stage, propelling the project into a market I would not have had access to previously. None of this would have ever been possible without choosing UL and Product Design and Technology. I will forever be grateful for not only my time spent there and the fond memories I have of it, but also the opportunities it gave me for my future.
The James Dyson Award is an international design award that celebrates, encourages and inspires the next generation of design engineers.