Imperial celebrates more than 30 years of the Innovation Design Engineering course

IDE students

Past and present students showcase their technologies at an exhibition in the College’s Main Entrance- News

Monday 5 March 2012
by Colin Smith

To celebrate more than 30 years of the Innovation Design Engineering (IDE) course, students and alumni are showcasing their technologies tonight at an exhibition in the Main Entrance of Imperial College London.

The exhibition, “Past, Present and Future”, will showcase prototype technologies that current IDE students have developed as part of an intensive four week module. The module is part of the Rio Tinto Sports Innovation Challenge, inspired by the London 2012 Paralympics, which aims to harness the creativity of Imperial’s students in order to make sports more accessible to people with disabilities by improving the sporting and training equipment available to them. The exhibition is open to the public and runs from 5-9 March 2012.

Alumni of the IDE double masters course, which is a joint collaboration between Imperial and the Royal College of Art, are also coming back to the College to showcase the spinout companies that evolved from technologies they developed while on the course. The alumni returning to College are part of a cohort of 500 graduates from the course, which has spawned more than ten spinout companies and fostered nearly 20 industrial collaborations with companies such as Nokia, Ford, Vodafone, Coutts Bank and Sony.

Professor Peter Childs, IDE joint course director from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, says:

“This exhibition represents the past, present and future of IDE research and development. We are extremely proud of our current students, who have developed some great technologies that may help to make sports more inclusive for spectators and people living with disabilities. We are also proud of our alumni, many of whom have gone on develop innovative spinout companies based on their work while here at the College. We want to celebrate this course and the students and academics that have made this success possible and there is no better way than showcasing these achievements in the College’s Norman Foster designed grand entrance.”

A device that enables the user to move, aim and fire a gun mechanism, using just head and mouth movements is an example of one of the technologies developed by IDE students. Colin McSwiggen, Jeffrey Gough and Juhye Lee have developed the device to demonstrate how people living with quadriplegia could compete with able-bodied people in clay pigeon shooting.

In the video (below), the IDE students demonstrate their prototype devices and explain how they could be used to improve the way that people play and participate in sports.

Another example is a prototype technology for involving spectators more in the game of Goal Ball – a Paralympic sport involving blind folded teams competing against one another to hit a ball into a goal at either end of the court. Currently, spectators have to remain silent to enable players to locate a ball, which has a bell inside it. IDE students, Yuta Sugawara, Jenny Shih and Tim Boukley have developed sensors that can be worn by players, wirelessly transmitting their vital signs such as heart beat and breathing to audio devices, which are worn by spectators to take them closer to the action on the court.

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