MetaBolt team wins the Irish leg of Invent for the Planet 2024 for its affordable energy solution for sub-Sahara Africa communities

Wednesday, February 28, 2024 Press Office
The winning team “MetaBolt. L to R: Rebecca Sheehan, third year Chemical and Process Engineering, UCC; Arianna Grande, Science PhD student, ATU Galway; Sairam Pamulaparthi Venkata, Matchimatic PhD, University of Galway; Gail Quinn, HR Leader & HRBP EMEA, Trane Technologies; Dr Orla Flynn , ATU President; Shon Shiju, PhD Biological and Pharmaceutical, MTU; Alessandro Sbarbaro, second year Mechanical Engineering student, TUDublin and Caoimhe Walsh, third year Electric and Electronic Engineering UCC.

34 universities from 20 locations take part in ATU hosted event including 36 students from Irish HEIs

A student team called “MetaBolt” has won the Irish leg of the 2024 international “Invent for the Planet” competition, hosted by Atlantic Technological University (ATU), for developing an affordable energy solution for sub-Sahara Africa communities using food waste to generate energy: Arianna Destefani from Italy, Science PhD student, ATU Galway; Alessandro Sbarbaro from Italy, second year Mechanical Engineering student, TU Dublin; Caoimhe Walsh from Cork, third year Electric and Electronic Engineering, UCC; Rebecca Sheehan from Cork, third year Chemical and Process Engineering, UCC; Sairam Pamulaparthi Venkata from India , Mathematics PhD, University of Galway; and Shon Shiju from India, PhD Biological and Pharmaceutical, MTU, showcased an incredible bio-based prototype that transforms local bio-waste into both electricity and fuel, establishing a sustainable cycle that directly benefits the community. 

They described their ‘Invent for the Planet 2024’ journey as truly exhilarating: “We collaborated intensively with an interdisciplinary team pushing us to achieve far more collectively in two days than any individual could have imagined. It wasn't just a competition; rather, an experience that transformed challenges into triumphs, marking an unforgettable 48-hour chapter in our academic adventure. The sun never sets on Innovation, and as MetaBolt we proudly herald a brighter future for rural communities worldwide.’’ The team were awarded a prize of €600, sponsored by Thermo King by Trane Technologies.

Invent for the Planet is a 48-hour immersive design experience (IDE) that engages students at different universities around the world during a single weekend to solve high-impact, global problems. Organised by Texas A&M University, it ran synchronously in 34 universities across 20 worldwide locations during the weekend, 16 to 18 February. ATU School of Engineering hosted the Irish leg of the competition for the second year in a row; 36 students competed from ATU campuses in Galway, Donegal and Sligo, UCC, University of Galway, South-East Technological University, Munster Technological University (MTU), TU Dublin and Dundalk Institute of Technology. 

The runner-up “Byebycatch” team comprised of Xing Ying from Taiwan, fourth year biomedical student at ATU Galway; Amber Thomas from Dublin, third year architect engineer, TU Dublin; Ian Korpanty from Limerick, first year  mechanical engineering, University of Galway; Luke Crawley from Meath, third year engineering, TU Dublin; and Ben Geraghty from Galway, fourth year mechanical engineer at ATU Galway, said: “Invent for the Planet has shown us how much can be achieved in a short amount of time, by a group of determined individuals. Our team, ByeBycatch, has developed a prototype ultrasonic deterrent system, mimicking the call of an Orca, to deter sharks from approaching fishing nets. Our initiative aims to reduce the accidental capture of sharks by fishing trawlers, contributing to the preservation of shark populations and promoting sustainable fishing practices.’’ They were awarded €300.

The tie runner-up “Lineless” team comprised of Mia Samovich from Latvia, Humanities Master, University of Galway; Milos Kricka from Galway, second year Manufacturing Engineering, ATU Galway; Ronan Stamp-Porter from Donegal, first year Engineering, ATU Donegal; Ben O’Gorman from Galway, fourth year Mechanical Engineering; ATU Galway and Patricia Canton from Sligo, Health PhD, ATU Sligo, said: ‘’48 hours of fun and friendship, multi-disciplinary people: talent, creative, dedicated are united with the sole purpose of benefiting the world. We are grateful for every second spend with such intelligent charismatic and positive people: Invent for the Planet is a true definition of a time well spent.’’

Seven different teams worked intensively on a selection of challenges and with guidance from mentors had to present a prototype, a 10-minute pitching presentation and 90-second video to a panel of judges. In total there were five global challenges that the teams could choose from, two submitted by the ATU sponsor Thermo King. 

Winning teams from Jamk University of Applied Sciences (Finland), SWANSEA UNIVERSITY (UK), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and Technical University of Cluj-Napoca (Romania) will fly to ATU Galway campus to compete for the Europe semi-finals on 9 March sponsored by Thermo King.

The top five worldwide teams will go on to compete in the final in France on 16 April. The short list will be announced on 24 February.

Organiser Dr Jack Saad, Fulbright Faculty Scholar, Texas A&M, and lecturer in Robotics at ATU Galway, says: “The main advantage of the event is having the organising team and mentors comprised from ATU staff, Marine Institute , BIM and Thermo King. It gives a huge exposure to the students. The hard work of the students is clearly demonstrated in their weekend transformation from Friday evening to Sunday professional pitches for 10 minutes with such energy and enthusiasm.’’

“The Irish Leg of the Invent for the Planet and European semi-finals in March was kindly sponsored by Thermo King whose support truly made a difference to each student participating.’’ 

Gail Quinn, HR Leader, Thermo King says: “Thermo King were delighted to sponsor the Ireland National Invent for the Planet Finals 16 to 18 February with our partners ATU.  It was wonderful to see such a diverse group of students across seven universities in Ireland take part in designing product prototypes that will tackle real world problems and present their ideas to the judging panel at the end of the 48-hour intensive design workshop.  We are honoured to also sponsor the first European competition due to take place in March and wish the winning team the very best of luck!”

Judge Dr Rick Officer, Marine Institute Chief Executive Officer, says: “The Marine Institute is very proud of its ongoing association with Invent for the Planet. The event brings together emerging leaders from higher education, showcases their collaborative capacity, and translates their concerns for our planet into constructive solutions. It is a pleasure and a privilege for me, and for the Marine Institute’s two fabulous mentors Majbritt Bolton-Warberg and Frank Kane, to remain involved.”

Judge Máirtín Walsh, Processing Development Executive, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), says: ‘’ BIM are delighted to participate in Invent for the planet, the calibre of the participants, their hard work, enthusiasm and clever innovation on projects that target goals around sustainability and improving people’s lives was amazing. “. It bodes well for the future of our seas and for the planet to see what positive change young people can drive.’’

The organising team led by Dr Jack Saad, ATU were Dr Carine Gachon, ATU; Damien Toner, BIM; Frank Kane, Marine Institute; Majbritt Bolton, Marine Institute, Jame Britton, UCD; Manuel Brunch, UCD.

The judging panel were Dr Rick Officer, Marine Institute Chief Executive Officer; Gail Quinn, HR Leader, Thermo King; Máirtín Walsh, Processing Development Executive, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM); Professor Frances Lucy, ATU lead for EUGREEN University Alliance; Oliver Mulryan, Mechanical and Industrial Head of Department, ATU and Dean Farragher, Energy Engineer, Boston Scientific.

For further information on programmes in the ATU Department of Industrial and Mechanical Engineering, please visit this web page.

Regina Daly, Atlantic TU Communications 
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