Understanding Domestic Energy Consumption - Trinity Engineering Take Up the Challenge

5 March 2012

Trinity 2012 Engineering Design Challenge

Have you ever wondered why you buy one product over another, or why particular products are so successful and others are not? Products or services are successful because they communicate effectively with the customer.

The Trinity 2012 Engineering Design Challenge which took place over the weekend (March 1-3rd) challenged conventional concepts of communicating energy consumption.  Four teams of five undergraduate engineering students attempted to reinterpret how we view energy information by prompting engineering students to ask those right questions and to reengineer the concept of energy consumption.  The challenge culminated with an award ceremony on Saturday, March 3rd last in the Science Gallery.

The challenge provided the students with a structured process using specific questions which help them design a product, in this case for understanding domestic energy consumption that will be accessible to all consumers of all ages and abilities. This is a new innovative 'user centred' process developed by Trinity research.  Solutions can range from creating a simple digital or physical display to expressing energy via a metaphor. An example could be creating a visual or physical waterfall, which communicates by its flow and maybe colour change how high the energy usage is for a particular person or family.

To help the teams with their design solutions, team members had the opportunity to consult with experts from Industry and academia across the world, via Skype to get feedback on their design prototypes. Throughout the challenge there were Trinity engineering academic experts to help with engineering related questions as well as the design process. 

Speaking about the initiative, Dr Sonja Hermann who led the event said: "The four unique solutions the students will develop over the three day period will speak to all consumers, both young and old.  The goal is that all consumers will be able to understand and relate to their own domestic energy usage by this process."

The winning team were presented with their prizes by ESB Electric Ireland's Frank Burke and the Head of School of Engineering, Professor Margaret O'Mahony. Prizes for the winning team included internships in companies in Ireland.   They will also have the unique opportunity to enter an all Ireland Universal Design challenge to show off their skills against competing Universities later in 2012.

The winning team celebrate at Trinity's Science Gallery.

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