UCD team wins Engineering for People Design Challenge for innovative mesh WiFi design


    A team of students from University College Dublin has taken the top prize at this year's Engineering for People Design Challenge for its project to seamlessly integrate mesh WiFi into urban communities.

    The Engineering for People Design Challenge run by Engineers Without Borders UK brings together teams from across the UK and Ireland to solve design challenges affecting millions of people. This year's competition focused on solving problems in Makers Valley, a neighbourhood in Johannesburg in South Africa and improving the lives of the people there.

    Makers Valley is suffering from a number of problems due to economic inequality, from housing shortages and poor waste collection services to inconsistent access to electricity and water. A team composed of first-year UCD students Clodagh Parkinson, Jennifer Carroll, and Shane Morrisroe, took the number one slot for their innovative approach to solving the poor internet access in urban communities in South Africa.

    The team created the "Connectivi-Tree" system, a complex mesh WiFi network composed of hundreds of wireless routers that would be spread throughout the community. Each router would be housed in a different art installation made by local artists and businesses, with the goal of allowing communities to take ownership of how they build their wireless network. The UCD team beat 28 universities from across the UK and Ireland to take the top prize in the region.

    Emma Crichton, Head of Engineering at Engineers Without Borders UK, commented: "Our judges were incredibly impressed with the student’s approach, and their attention to the social, environmental and economic considerations within Maker Valley. Some judges were so impressed they could even foresee the community taking inspiration from the ideas to make a reality."

    Judge Katie Cresswell-Maynard CEO of Engineers Without Borders UK added that "The project speaks to the ethos of Maker's Valley by building on the existing strengths of the community of makers and artists."

    Source: UCD

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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