Combining fashion with science to solve problems

By Aideen O'Flaherty

AN innovative summer camp, which gives students the opportunity to blend fashion with engineering in order to seek solutions to the issues within their local communities, took place on the TU Dublin-Tallaght Campus last week.

The week-long Fashioneering Summer Camp brought together 15 young people, ranging in age from 13 to 17 years, from Tallaght, Clondalkin, Wicklow and Kildare, who developed functional clothing and wearables to solve some of the most challenging societal issues in Ireland.

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Students at the camp in TU Dublin

The camp was run by the Fiosracht group, which is a partnership of TU Dublin, Foróige and South Dublin County Council’s library service, and it was coordinated by TU Dublin-Tallaght Campus lecturers Lucy McAuley and Gerry Ryder from the college’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, designer Peter Donnellan, and Yvonne Anderson, a youth officer with Foróige.

The students got to develop innovative prototypes, including reflective light accessories to keep you safe at night, a protective vest for sport that keeps track of your activity level and vital signs during exercise, and a mental health hoodie that lets other people know how you’re feeling.

Peter Donnellan from Fiosracht told The Echo: “We are always fascinated by the range of ideas that participants come up with, because the brainstorming process is based on empathy with the community – they all help people in some way.”

Gerard Ryder from TU Dublin-Tallaght Campus, added: “I had two favourites this year: the mood hoodie and the swimming companion for a blind swimmer.

“Both showed a fantastic insight into the needs of real people in our community and both creatively used the BBC Microbits to develop an interactive prototype.”

The aim of the camp is to encourage young people in the area to engage with and understand Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), and to empower them to act as STEM ambassadors in their families and communities.

Mr Donnelly added: “Feedback from the camp has been fantastic.

“It helps develop the participants’ confidence and social skills, and helps them see the relevance of STEM in their lives.

“Any one of the ideas that they presented could be taken on by a company and developed as a viable technology product.”

The prototypes were showcased to industry experts during the course of the camp, including Paula Corcoran from Vodafone, and Jim Roche from Incereb, who invented a cap to monitor a newborn baby’s brain activity.

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