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Impact Showcase

Research and innovation in UCD College of Engineering and Architecture delivers important impact – advancing knowledge, supporting enterprise, informing policy, and underpinning the nature and quality of the education we deliver to our students. We recognise that this impact can take many different forms, over different time scales.  The following examples capture and convey samples of the national and global impacts of the research, scholarship and innovation undertaken in the College.

Academic Showcase

Donaghy and DimmondWill Dimond and Marcus Donaghy

When architects Will Dimond and Marcus Donaghy set out to design an extension to The Inchicore Model School in Dublin 8, they faced a series of interesting challenges. How could they take a 19th century building and bring it into the realm of 21st-century education? How could they protect the spirit of the history while ensuring that students would have the space to learn, play and grow? By working with light, space and nature and by considering the needs of students, teachers and the local community the architects refurbished and extended the school with an award-winning design that has enriched the locality.

Read the full case study here:
The Inchicore Model School: a 21st-century design on education

Dr Oliver KinnaneDr. Oliver Kinanne

The built environment accounts for over one-third of the world’s final energy. Traditional building skins, including those of concrete, are often a barrier to energy efficiency. In addition, making concrete, traditionally in high quantities with high levels of cement, results in high carbon emissions.
Dr. Oliver Kinanne and research colleagues Dr. Richard O’Hegarty and Dr. Aidan Reilly at UCD College of Engineering & Architecture are researching and developing new forms of high-performance concretes to create novel, thin, ultra high-strength, thermally superior pre-fabricated skins for buildings, for new and retrofit applications.
Through collaborations with industry and as a principal investigator on the major European project IMPRESS, Dr. Kinnane’s work will make buildings more energy-efficient, more environmentally sustainable and more comfortable for the people within.

You can read the full case study here:
Concrete Solutions for Sustainability in Buildings

Dr Ellen RowleyDr Ellen Rowley

Ellen Rowley is an architectural and cultural historian based in the School of Architecture, APEP, UCD. She is a writer and teacher, currently curating Belfield 50, a celebration of UCD’s 1960s and 1970s campus. Ellen mostly writes about twentieth-century Irish architecture, as a type of social history. Her books include 'Housing, Architecture + the Edge Condition' (2019) and 'More Than Concrete Blocks' (edited, 2016 + 2019), as well as (as co-editor) 'Architecture 1600–2000, Art + Architecture of Ireland, Volume IV' (2014). This history is pioneering and so, she admits, there are mistakes. In 2017, Ellen was awarded Honorary Membership of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland, for services to Irish architecture.

You can find the Davis Now lecture series here:
UCD Davis Now Lectures

Dr Beth ShottonDr. Elizabeth Shotton

The built environment stretches across time. In that time, its materials store ‘embodied’ energy and carbon, some of which help to reduce emissions of carbon to the environment, such as the use of timber. In that time too, materials get broken down by the environment, and in the face of that damage our approaches to remodeling and rebuilding change. Dr Elizabeth Shotton at UCD School of Architecture is looking forward in time at how we can make more environmentally sustainable use of timber in the built environment, and she is looking back at the construction of small harbours in Ireland to both preserve and learn from their history.

Read the full case study here:
Timber and Harbours: Insights into Sustainability in Design & Construction

Professor Madeleine LoweryProfessor Madeleine Lowery

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disease that affects parts of the brain that control the movement of muscles, and can result in the person having ‘shakes’ or tremors and experience difficulty walking and speaking. One treatment for these symptoms is Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), which implants an electrode into the brain to calm muscle tremors and other motor symptoms.
Professor Madeleine Lowery is using computer models to build a better understanding of how DBS affects brain tissue, how it stimulates the nerves that carry signals to muscles and how it impacts the muscles themselves.  Ultimately the aim is to develop a ‘smart’ Deep Brain Stimulation system that can figure out what the person needs and can automatically deliver the correct level of timely stimulation, thereby reducing symptoms effectively and with longer battery life.

You can read the full case study here:
Engineering a smarter treatment for Parkinson’s disease

Dr Simon KellyDr Simon Kelly

“Who’s that coming towards me? It looks like Maeve, doesn’t it? I’ll give her a wave. But hold on a second – I could have sworn that was Maeve.” That’s a common situation that most of us experience from time to time, and an example of a core brain function known as perceptual decision making. But what is actually going on in the brain and how can we get a better understanding of that? For two decades Associate Professor Simon Kelly has been preoccupied with these and related questions.

Working closely with psychologists, the electrical and electronic engineer has made important strides in improving how we can disentangle what is happening as the brain progresses from focussing on an initial stimulus, such as seeing a person in the distance, to recognising them as a friend and deciding to wave. He is now engaged in two projects, one funded by the Wellcome Trust and the other under Science Foundation Ireland’s US-Ireland R&D Partnership Programme, which build on this important work and could have potential longerterm benefits in diagnostics, and possibly even therapeutics, related to psychiatric and neurological disorders.

You can read the full case study here:

Dr Simon Kelly

Dr Eoin O CearbhaillDr Eoin O’Cearbhaill

3D printing technology is breaking down traditional barriers for manufacturing objects. It turns a design into an object by ‘printing’ layers of materials, building up three-dimensional shapes. At UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Dr Eoin O’Cearbhaill and his team at the UCD Medical Device Design Group are developing new and innovative ways to make cost-effective, efficient and often highly personalised objects to help us to monitor health, deliver life-saving medicines and to support the body as it repairs after injury.

You can read the full case study here:
3D printing to revolutionise medical devices

Professor Francis ButlerProfessor Francis Butler & Dr Kevin Hunt

Food safety is vitally important to the wellbeing of a community and setting standards to prevent the spread of microbial contamination is an important role for regulators. But regulators across the world have found it far more difficult to set standards for viral than for bacterial contamination. At a biological level, the main difference between the two is that while bacteria are free-living cells that can live inside or outside a body, viruses are a non-living collection of molecules that need a host to survive.

Now new technologies and approaches are opening the door to an increased awareness of viruses, their identification and assessment of the risks they pose to human health. Researchers in the UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering, in conjunction with the Marine Institute, have helped to improve understanding of the difficulties and limitation of existing techniques used to measure viral contamination in a single species – in this instance Norovirus in oysters – and made an important contribution to the debate on how meaningful standards can be set and monitored for viral contamination in foods.

Read the Full case study here:
Professor Francis Butler and Dr Kevin Hunt

Professor Paula BourkeProfessor Paula Bourke

The race is on to find new and effective ways of treating antimicrobial resistant pathogens, which represent a major threat to the health of patients undergoing surgery for medical implants. Bacterial infection is one of the most common problems associated with such surgery, compounded by the absence of new antibiotics to take up the battle. But a tripartite team involving researchers at UCD and QUB and at Jefferson University in Philadelphia are pioneering new approaches. Plasma is the fourth state of matter (the others are solid, liquid and gas. The researchers are using a combination of the direct application of cold plasma and plasma functionalised liquids. Liquids such as water or saline, can be exposed to a plasma in order to generate particular chemical characteristics, and are under investigation for a range of applications including infection control and cancer therapy. Although still in its early days, if the research is successful it could revolutionise outcomes, vastly improving the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people each year and providing a new tool in the ongoing battle against antibiotic resistant microorganisms.

Read the full case study here:
Professor Paula Bourke

Professor Aoife GowenProfessor Aoife Gowen

Water is the most abundant molecule in the known Universe and it is vital for life, yet we understand precious little about it.  Professor Aoife Gowen is changing that thanks to her expertise in a branch of science called hyperspectral imaging, which looks at minute changes within molecules as they interact.
Her current project, which secured prestigious European Research Council fund-ing, is examining how water interacts with surfaces and how that can affect import-ant processes such as the breakdown over time of materials grafted into the body to repair bone. She is also applying her expertise to help improve the diagnosis of prostate cancer in patient samples and to monitor the growth of bacteria on surfaces.

You can read the full case study here:
Getting up close with chemistry – new perspectives on life’s interactions

Professor Dawen SunProfessor Da-Wen Sun

We all know the importance of eating fresh food, but could frozen food be just as good for us? That depends on how quickly and effectively the food has been frozen, and whether its nutrients have been protected on its journey to us. Professor Da-Wen Sun, Professor of Food and Biosystems Engineering at UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering, has written key textbooks for the food industry and has received many international accolades for his work on refrigeration and freezing technologies.
He has developed a method that uses ultrasound during freezing to make the process more effective, lessening damage caused by ice crystals and protecting nutrients within foods. The method is now under consideration by academic and industry food researchers, and could ultimately help to protect nutrients in food processing and storage and improve human health through more effective nutrition.

You can read the full case study here:
A fresh look at freezing foods: new technology to preserve nutrients

Dr Fionnuala MurphyDr. Fionnuala Murphy

When you figure out the environmental cost of making something, do you take everything into account? Dr Fionnuala Murphy at UCD School of Biosystems & Food Engineering takes a close look at various processes that use bio-based materials - from generating biofuels to making products from algae and agricultural and plastic wastes - and finds the true environmental cost across the life-cycle of those processes.
Dr Murphy’s work has already helped to move towards more sustainable sources for bio-fuel generation and, through major European projects, she is contributing to the development of a more sustainable bioeconomy that reduces levels of agri-food waste by using it for higher value products.

You can read the full case study here:
Accounting for Environmental Impact in the Bioeconomy

Dr Michael LongDr Michael Long

In the Bible Saint Mathew warns of “the foolish man who built his house on sand”. Dr Michael Long and his colleagues at the UCD-based, Science Foundation Irelandfunded Irish Center for Research and Applied Geoscience (iCRAG) are hoping that a project they have recently commenced will overcome such uncertainty. The project explores the potential use of a relatively new approach to ground improvement, making use of either bacteria or enzymes to accelerate the natural process of cementation between grains of sand to increase their strength and load bearing capacity.

This approach would be significantly more ecologically acceptable than current methods of ground improvement. As well as testing the technique to determine its effectiveness on local Irish soils, the researchers also intend to develop an appropriate testing regime to ensure compliance with Eurocode 7 requirements for building foundations.

You can read the full case study here:
Dr Michael Long

Dr Tom CurranDr. Tom Curran

Waste can cause problems. When fats, oils, grease and sanitary products congeal in a sewer, it can build ‘fatbergs’ that slow and clog sewers, resulting in backed up pipes, environmental damage and expensive and dangerous operations to clear the blockage. Dr Tom Curran at UCD is making strides in the fight against fatbergs, working  on prevention and detection. His research has shown high levels of compliance among businesses to prevent fatbergs, which saves Dublin millions of Euros each year in sewer management and wastewater treatment costs.

You can read the full case study here:
Engineering Solutions to Offset Waste Problems

Dr. Yaqian ZhaoDr. Yaqian Zhao

Wastewater treatment systems are not always pleasant to look at. But what if they could be aesthetically pleasing and offer the public a space for recreation and enjoyment as they carry out the necessary work of removing impurities from the water supply?

Dr Yaqian Zhao is a world leader in constructing artificial wetlands to do just that. His group has not only developed and tested an approach that re-uses waste products to build wetlands that clean water themselves, they have also devised an approach to generate electricity from wetland activity. Dr Zhao has been recognised internationally for his pioneering contributions to the field.

You can read the full case study here:
Constructed wetlands: from waste to oasis

Dr Sarah CotterillDr Sarah Cotterill

Climate change is just one more factor making the unpredictable world of fresh water supply and demand even more uncertain. Dr Sarah Cotterill is interested in finding ways of ensuring continuity of supply when, not if, water systems fail. Despite everyone’s best efforts this will happen, she says, possibly resulting from two or more things occurring at the same time or in swift succession. “That’s where resilience comes into play.” The arrival of just such an event, the COVID pandemic, provided her and a team of researchers from Ireland and the UK with the opportunity to examine how well existing water company risk management strategies performed in response to the challenges presented by a high impact, unpredictable threat. This information is of immense value in helping the water industry and policymakers devise better, more adaptable, approaches to risk management in an increasingly uncertain world.

Read the case study here:
Dr Sarah Cotterill

Dr Fiachra O LoughlinDr Fiachra O’Loughlin

Rivers are arteries for human civilisation, and can enable prosperity or, in the case of flooding or drought, they can bring the potential for devastation. Dr Fiachra O’Loughlin from UCD School of Civil Engineering is using freely available satellite data to better model and understand large river systems. His work on modelling the Congo basin has brought about deeper insights into the potential flashpoints for flooding and carbon cycling as well as dynamic data that could help local communities and businesses to use the river as a resource. Dr O’Loughlin has also worked on information to help researchers and organisations build more effective models of other river basins around the world.

You can read the full case study here:
New Perspectives on River Models

Professor Eugene O’BrienProfessor Eugene O’Brien

Bridges are often key factors in transport, allowing us to get across landscapes efficiently. If a bridge fails, the results can be catastrophic for human life, for economies and societies and for the environment. This is why bridges are monitored as they age, to estimate whether they can still safely bear expected traffic. But the processes that civil engineers use to do that on long-span bridges are limited. This could result in bridges being closed due to safety concerns.
Professor Eugene O’Brien and his team at UCD School of Civil Engineering have been using cameras to augment the data we can collect about traffic weights and patterns on long-span bridges.
They have developed a first-of-its-kind method to quantify the traffic loading on some of the world’s biggest bridges – structures with clear spans of up to 2 kilometres. This means that engineers can now provide a more realistic measurement of bridge safety, thereby protecting human lives. The UCD-developed method should also help to prevent the unnecessary closure of economically important bridges, thus saving money and reducing disruptions to economies and societies and to the environment.

You can read the full case study here:
How much traffic can this bridge safely take? A breakthrough in quantifying traffic loading on big bridges

Dr Shane DonohueDr Shane Donohue

We rely heavily on the earthworks that support our roads, railways and watercours-es. If they fail it can cause loss of life, disruption to transport services and the ex-pense of repair. As earthwork infrastructure ages and faces pressure from climate change, we need a fast and economical way to assess the earth. Dr Shane Donohue from UCD School of Civil Engineering is researching seismic-wave-based technology to help major transport and infrastructure managers rapidly assess earthwork assets at scale. This will enable timely maintenance, reducing the risk of failure.

You can read the full case study here:
Assessing the Internal Health of Earthworks for more Stable Infrastructure

Professor Eoin CaseyProfessor Eoin Casey

Research at UCD has developed new technology to save up energy in wastewater treatment.  Conventionally, bubbles of oxygen are forced through wastewater to support bacteria that remove nutrients and contaminants, but this wastes energy. Professor Eoin Casey and colleagues at UCD have developed an alternative technology: membranes that diffuse or ‘breathe’ oxygen and thereby directly support biofilms of bacteria.
Their studies show that this Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor (MABR) technology can save up to 75% of the energy conventionally needed to support bacteria in their wastewater treatment role. In 2014 UCD spin-out company OxyMem delivered the first commercial MABR technology to the market, and it is now reducing energy use for wastewater treat-ment in numerous countries.

You can read the full case study here:
Energy-saving UCD technology breathes life into wastewater treatment

Dr Philip DonnelanDr Philip Donnellan

Engineers solve problems, and Dr Philip Donnellan currently has two main problems in mind. One is how to store energy generated from renewable sources such as wind or solar, so that we can capture that energy when it is plentiful and use it at a later time when we need it. The other is the need to get medicines to patients efficiently and cost-effectively, which is why Dr Donnellan is developing small, portable 3D-printed reactors and units to allow flexible, local medicine manufacturing.

You can read the full case study here:
Engineering design to solve long-term problems in energy storage and medicine

Professor Niall EnglishProfessor Niall English

Niall English has researched ice-like, crystalline solids called gas hydrates for more than 20 years. These block gas pipelines and form naturally in the permafrost and in sea beds at the edges of continents. Over the past five of these he has worked closely with QUB microbiologist Professor Chris Allen and together they have established that microbes can affect the stability of natural gas hydrates. They have also postulated a tentative link between reverses in the earth’s magnetic polarity, relatively sudden releases of methane in the past and their possible contribution to mass extinction events something known as the “Belfast hypothesis”. This research is important because it helps inform the work being undertaken globally on climate change.

The research partners have also filed a joint patent application on behalf of their respective universities which controls the way in which certain proteins and particular peptide sequences (short chains of amino acids) can be used to regulate the growth of gas hydrates. This has potential value in the global $1 trillion a year wastewater treatment (WWT) industry, particularly in pipeline flow assurance by preventing blockage caused by hydrates, and the treatment of heavily polluted water. Their research, therefore, has contributed impacts at community, economic and environmental levels. They have also just been awarded a joint British-Irish Leverhulme-Trust grant for two years (2021-23) to take this research further, with a keen eye to regulating hydrate formation in large-scale industrial applications.

Read the full case study here:
Professor Niall English

Dr Susan McDonnellDr. Susan McDonnell

The Biopharmaceutical sector has become an important source of high-level, value added employment in Ireland and the number of biologic manufacturing sites across Ireland has increased from two in 2003 to 22 in 2019.  Biopharmaceutical Bioprocess Engineering is one of the School’s major research priority areas.  Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells have become the standard cells for the large-scale production of biopharmaceuticals and biologics.  Assoc Prof Susan McDonnell of the School of Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering is developing strategies to establish optimal conditions for the continuous growth and productivity of cells within the bioreactor.  A current specific project is to extend the lifetime of CHO cells in culture by preventing a form of cell death known as autophagy.

You can find details of her Master's programme here:
MEngSc Biopharmaceutical Engineering

Dr Mohammad Reza GhaaniDr Mohammad Reza Ghaani

The chance discovery of a novel, safe and cost effective way to generate within a liquid tiny bubbles of gas invisible to the naked eye (nanobubbles) by two alert and inquisitive researchers in the School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering has the potential to transform a panoply of industrial sectors worldwide. This discovery, made four years ago, has progressed to an advanced stage, with a spin out company established to support commercialisation of the patented new technology.

The easily controlled method to promote bulk-nanobubble formation has significant potential in strategically important industries worldwide, including the wastewater treatment, food/beverage production, chemical and (bio) pharmaceutical sectors. Other potential applications include irrigation, hydroponics, oil recovery, (bio-) gas separation and, perhaps most important of all, emissions control from carbon sources such as power plants and cement and steel production.

Read the full case study here:
Dr Mohammad Reza Ghaani

Professor Robert StaszewskiProfessor R. Bogdan Staszewski

In the 21st century we are used to connected technology reliably working in the background to monitor and fine-tune our environment. We have also come to ex-pect that we can communicate easily and instantly with others around the world.This level of instant connectedness requires not only clever engineering but also smart science, so that devices can function as needed in their environments. 

Professor R. Bogdan Staszewski at UCD School of Electronic & Electrical Engineer-ing is solving fundamental issues to enable devices to monitor and communicate at scale as the Internet of Things. He is also developing technology to allow human communication in even the most challenging of environments, such as sites of natu-ral disasters. Professor Staszewski works closely with industry leaders such as Intel, Xilinx and Analog Devices, and his research has resulted in hundreds of patents and two start-up companies based in Europe.

You can read the full case study here:
Smart science to power the Internet of Things

Dr Damian FlynnAssociate Professor Damian Flynn

Renewable energy offers the promise of harnessing environmentally sustainable power from wind, sun and ocean. But switching power systems over to renewable sources needs planning in order to avoid the danger of power outages.  Associate Professor Damian Flynn at University College Dublin School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering is taking a detailed look at how power systems can turn up the dial on renewable energy sources, particularly wind energy.

The research will inform how Ireland moves towards sustainable energy goals in the 21st century without compromising the reliability or stability of the power supply.

You can read the full case study here:
Maintaining the balance of power – through engineering

Dr Elena BlokhinaDr. Elena Blokhina

One of the driving trends of the 21st century is technology’s ability to connect. Dr Elena Blokhina at UCD School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering is working on fundamental approaches to enabling even more efficient connection into the future. She is developing new architecture for signal generation to facilitate 5G, the latest standard in wireless infrastructure, and she is designing energy-harvesting technology to enable small devices such as sensors to use nearby movement as a power source. The impact will be a more connected and sustainable web of devices.

You can read the full case study here:
A Boost for Wireless and Energy-Harvesting Technologies

Professor Andrew KeaneProfessor Andrew Keane

Climate change is arguably the greatest single existential challenge ever to confront mankind. Largely through the use of technology, man has created the problem in less than two centuries. Now technological advances in the capture, management and distribution of renewable energy are key to the solution. With a long track record in electronic and electrical engineering, UCD is playing a leading role in developing these new approaches. In particular, it is bringing expertise in managing power grids to the challenge of integrating renewable energy, such as offshore wind power, within electricity networks. Professor Andrew Keane, Director of the UCD Energy Institute and of the SFI Energy Systems Integration Partnership Programme (ESIPP), is co-ordinating the efforts of a large multidisciplinary team of experts from UCD and other Irish universities to research and develop solutions that will have global as well as national impact in the race to become carbon neutral.

You can read the full case study here:
Professor Andrew Keane

Dr Le-Nam TranDr Le-Nam Tran

Fifth-generation wireless networks, commonly known as 5G, seek to send data rapidly and reliably. To achieve this, a critical issue that needs to be resolved is the ‘last hop’ between users’ devices and the serving base stations. Specifically the connections in the last hop of a wireless network can suffer from severe interference, and it is expensive and inefficient to overcome that by allocating dedicated time slots or frequency bands to each device.
Dr Le-Nam Tran at UCD School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering is developing new ways to optimise this important step in transmission for future wireless networks, and the impact will be a more reliable, affordable, sustainable communications system. 

You can read the full case study here:
Optimising the Last Mile of 5G Wireless Networks

Associate Professor Eoin O'NeillDr Eoin O'Neill

Due to climate change, there has been an increase in the frequency of exceptional heavy rainfall leading to flooding. This poses problems for people living or working near water courses and it can also increase the risk of poorly performing Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems (DWWTS) and the risk of contamination of well water for people living in rural areas. But how well do such people really understand these risks and to what extent has their understanding prompted them to take appropriate steps to protect themselves.? Dr Eoin O’Neill has sought to identify the answers to these questions through a series of research studies. The information gleaned has contributed to the development of environmental policies by government and agencies at both national and European levels.

You can read the full case study here: 
Assessing Flood Risk Awareness Contributes to Environmental Policy Formation

Dr Liana RicciDr. Liana Ricci

Cities and towns in sub-Saharan Africa are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This is due to a combination of rapid urbanisation, socio-economic inequality, and the extent that people’s livelihoods depend on natural resources.
In light of this, Dr Ricci launched a research collaboration between African and European Universities, as well as local authorities and communities, to look at urban development, resilient infrastructure, and adaptation to climate change in the region. The collaboration improved the ability of local authorities to integrate climate change into urban development and environmental plans and programmes.
As a result, many policies in the region have been amended to include measures designed collectively by researchers, public officials, and the local community. Many residents stand to benefit from these measures, which will reduce the impact of climate change on their lives.

You can read the full case study here:
Improving adaptation to climate change in sub-Saharan cities

Dr Aisling Ni AnnaighDr. Aisling Ní Annaidh

An unusual research topic for her doctoral thesis led Dr Aisling Ní Annaidh into the fascinating world of tissue biomechanics – the study of research into the mechanical and physical properties of tissue – and developing a particular focus on the skin. This has in turn led her and her team to undertake a wide range of research over the past decade with significant practical healthcare impacts. The outcomes include unexpected results leading to changes to EU standards for helmet testing, supporting innovation in Ireland’s world-leading medical devices sector and, most recently, a novel approach to the age-old challenge of customising wheelchairs for people who have a physical disability.

Read the full case study here:
Dr Aisling Ní Annaidh

Professor Lizbeth GoodmanProfessor Lizbeth Goodman

How can we make sure that technology is designed to suit all the people who might use it? And how can we build technology that helps users with specific needs, such as People With Disabilities, People With Autism Spectrum Disorder, people with medical conditions such as Obesity, or Alzheimer’s Disease and, more generally, marginalised groups in society? These are some of the questions that keep Professor Lizbeth Goodman at SMARTlab in the UCD College of Engineering and Architecture energised. She and the team in the Inclusive Design Research Centre focus on developing technology tools and innovation methods for real social change. Her work across numerous projects and programmes develops new approaches to designing inclusive technologies that suit the individual user. The research has helped people with severe physical disabilities to communicate and create in new way;  it has supported local communities; and it is developing new ways to enable all people to show their strengths.

You can read the full case study here:
Technology for all: towards truly inclusive design

Dr David McKeownDr. David McKeown

Movement affects performance, whether it is a spacecraft, a robotic arm or even a horse. That is why Dr David McKeown at UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering is developing new ways to monitor movement and, in some cases, make adjustments on the fly to improve performance. Dr McKeown's research will help to improve the design of next generation rockets so they can carry payloads safely and more economically into space. His work is also supporting the first Irish satellite, robotic arm development for future Mars missions and even how to detect future lameness in high performance horses.

You can read the full case study here:
Controlling Moving and Shaking for Better Space Travel and Horse Training

Dr Kevin NolanDr Kevin Nolan

A request in April 2020 to deploy a long-established optical technique to identify gas flows and the spread of aerosols in surgery opened up an entirely new avenue of research for Dr Kevin Nolan, whose primary interest is in studying the flow of liquids and gases – fluid dynamics. Initially the new research focused on identifying the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus in clinical procedures and therapy settings. More recently, still related to the spread of viral infection, it has expanded to encompass collaboration with manufacturers of air filtration equipment on how it can be used in various settings and has also led to his involvement in the development of new European standards for face coverings used in community settings.

Read the full case study here:
Dr Kevin Nolan

Dr Nan ZhangDr. Nan Zhang

Many industries require precision components. Manufacturing these components can involve engineering materials and features at tiny scales, on the order of microns or even nanometers (billionths of metres). Dr Nan Zhang at UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering aims to help bring innovations in precision manufacturing from the lab-based prototypes to the large volume of manufacturing that industry needs. The research is building capacity in Ireland to enable the mass production of precision micro/nano devices.

You can read the full case study here:
Towards Mass Production for Precision Micro/Nano Devices

Dr Francesco PillaDr Francesco Pilla

Dr Francesco Pilla is working on several projects to tackle environmental issues in Dublin and in other European cities, with the aim of scaling up the technologies and approaches his group develops. The research is currently co-designing and testing interventions with citizens to mitigate against poor air quality and its related health effects, to predict localised flooding and plan for future protection against such events, and to assess the value of green spaces to human health and wellbeing. The research is already increasing awareness among citizens of the need for greater sustainability, and the interven-tions are designed for larger-scale impact in Europe.

Read the full case study here:
A Living Lab Approach for more Sustainable Cities

Dr Mick LennonProfessor Mark Scott & Dr Michael Lennon

Green spaces are not just easy on the eye, they also help to keep urban spaces safe and biodiverse, and they can even safeguard our health. To increase the awareness of green infrastructure among planners, a team from UCD School of Architecture, Planning & Environmental Policy developed work-shops and games to encourage experts to put their heads together and prioritise nature-based infrastructure in plans. Their workshops with local authorities have encouraged new collaboration and fresh thinking about how to support nature in urban environments and tackle natural and societal challenges.

Read the full case study here:
Eco-Plan: Upping the game for green spaces in urban planning

UCD College of Engineering and Architecture

Room 122 & Room 126, UCD Engineering and Materials Science Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
T: +353 1 716 1868 | E: eng.arch@ucd.ie