470 UWE technology students show off degree work

Issue date: 08 June 2010

Ashley Hribar-Green with his 'Roto' design 470 Institute of Technology Graduate Show 2010
UWE Exhibition and Conference Centre Friday 11 June 2010 at 18.00

A board game to help prospective foster carers, a new look and design for a stair lift, innovative gaming solutions and a fast indexing system are just some of the ideas that will feature in the University of the West of England's Bristol Institute of Technology (BIT) Show on Friday 11 June at 18.00.

This year the show is branded the 470 show, reflecting the 470 students taking part and is a showcase of final year graduate work. Tod Burton, Head of School from BIT, said, “Once again we have a very exciting array of projects on show. The institute now encompasses a fantastic range of programmes of study from product design to games technology to robotics and software engineering. 470 is a culmination of final year project work attracting a wide audience.”

Student profiles

Ashley Hribar-Green, a final year Product Design Technology student, has designed 'Roto', a new concept in stair lift design that makes it easier for people who are wheelchair bound to move from wheelchair to stair lift without help. Ashley explains, “The 'Roto' design reduces the risk of falls when moving from wheelchair to stair lift in the home by means of a saddle that swivels to the height of the wheel chair so that the user can easily manoeuvre onto the lift.

“The saddle then moves into position and the lift climbs the stairs in the usual way. I have tried to respond to a need for a more aesthetic design whilst equally maintaining the mechanics. 'Roto' can be used in a very small space - this is critical as many people who become wheelchair bound are forced to move to single level accommodation or make very expensive adaptations to their homes. 'Roto' could be manufactured at around a third of the cost of having a full lift installed.”

Ashley has enjoyed his time at UWE saying that the Product Design Technology course has enabled him to develop a useful skill set including sketching, product development, CAD Design and technical analysis that will enable him to work in a variety of design fields, “I'm really keen to continue work in this area and I've been sending invitations to the show to possible employers and manufacturers as well as making a lot of speculative applications for work.”

Christine McFadden, a Creative Product Design student, has designed a game aimed at people who are considering fostering to help them navigate the application process and to develop some of the skills needed to foster a child. The game is called 'Foster Life' and includes a board, four resin 'jelly baby' looking character pawns, a polypropylene 'home', play dough and cards that help with skills development.

Christine has designed and made all the components as well as coming up with an original concept. She said, “I was inspired by my parents who started the fostering process but got put off by its complexity. This game has a 'street' divided into six colours that take players through each stage of the application process from initial enquiry to the final panel meeting. Each colour pathway is divided into boxes and identifies an aspect of the application process to help people gain a better understanding of what's involved. The plastic home is made to look friendly with flowers laser cut into the plastic. Contained in the house are pink and blue cards that form a tool kit for dealing with skills like communication, confidence, relationship building and bonding, all critical when aiming to foster a child.”

Kurt Gauss, Product Design Programme Incoming Leader, said, “The students have come up with really innovative ideas around human centred design criteria. I am always impressed with the strong ability of the students to synthesize their education at UWE and to build upon it during this year a long independent project; it shows a tremendous talent and maturity.”

Daniel Twomey is a final year Games Technology student. His project is entitled 'Procedural Generation of Urban Environments for Sandbox games', Daniel said, "I have designed what is known as a city generator – this involves putting out district markers, and from these building a road network and placing buildings using procedural techniques, to create a simple city for gaming. Procedural generation technology is known technology but not overly used in Industry, especially not for city generation. Sand box games are open world games with no predefined path, a good example of a well known Sandbox game being 'Grand Theft Auto.' The aim of my project, however, is to create a new world or city to explore, each time the game is played.

“The UWE course has been fantastic – I've learned all about software design not just about game design so my degree will put me in a good position to apply for a range of jobs.”

James Walmsley, a final year Computing for Real Time Systems student, has designed a new data filing system. James said, “The need to reliably and rapidly store and retrieve data is critical to all computing applications. I had developed an open-source file system (FullFAT - www.fullfat-fs.co.uk )in 2009, which has already been adopted by some organisations, and as part of my final year project I researched more sophisticated data indexing methods. By applying these complex algorithms I have re-developed the application and improved the performance up to 1000 times.”

“The file system has potential for use in a broad range of applications from mp3 players and digital cameras to desktop computers. Such devices can utilise the improved performance, allowing them to be more responsive and save power, extending their battery life.

“Before University, I had already developed a good knowledge of IT, however this challenging technical course has transformed my knowledge, understanding and experience. As part of my degree I took the opportunity to take a 14 month assignment in Austria with a company called Bluetechnix. Together with this real life assignment the course has provided me with both the technical and commercial experience to begin a career in industry.”

For more information on the show see: 470 Institute of Technology Graduate Show 2010

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