Letterfrack student wins international Undergraduate Award 2013

Monday, October 07, 2013 Press Office
Press Release

Best research dissertation on 'The Design and Manufacture of Ergonomic Primary School Furniture'

A student in GMIT Letterfrack (National Centre for Excellence in Furniture Design & Technology) has won a prestigious international engineering award for her research dissertation on the ‘Design and Manufacture of Ergonomic Primary School Furniture’. Katharine Griffith from Killaloe, Co Clare, has been chosen as the overall winner of the ‘Engineering and Mechanical Sciences’ category of the 2013 Undergraduate Awards (UA). President of Ireland Michael D Higgins is Patron of the awards organisation.

“Katharine was in competition with students from universities across the globe including Harvard, Princeton, Oxford, Caltech, St Andrews, and UToronto, for her paper ‘The Design and Manufacture of Ergonomic Primary School Furniture,” says Sally Herbert, UA Programme Manager.

“This year, UA received 3,771 submissions overall from 184 academic institutions across 26 countries, 27 of these came from GMIT,” explains Ms Herbert.

Katharine will receive her medal at the UA Global Summit taking place across Dublin from 13 to 15 November. Not only is she recognised as the best undergraduate student of Engineering in Ireland, she also won the overall international award, making her the leader in her field globally. Her essay was one of 3,771 submitted to The Undergraduate Awards this year. As a winner of the overall international category, it will be published in the annual Undergraduate Awards Journal.

Katharine completed a Bachelor of Science honours degree in Furniture Design and Manufacture in GMIT’s National Centre for Excellence in Furniture Design & Technology at Letterfrack earlier this year. She will graduate with a first class honours degree on 1 November.

Speaking about her achievement, Katharine says: “'It means a huge amount to me to win this award. It’s a massive personal achievement that couldn't have come about without the help, guidance and advice of my lecturers in GMIT’s Letterfrack campus, as well as my family and friends.”

“I am currently in the process of setting up my own furniture design and making business based in Ballina/Killaloe, which I hope to have up and running early in the new year. I also hope to continue my research and development of ergonomic primary school furniture as it is an area that means a great deal to me.”

Dermot O’Donovan, Head of GMIT Letterfrack says: “We are delighted that Katharine has won the UA Award for 2013 and it is so well deserved. The depth and quality of her research is exceptional and the work produced is of a very high standard. It is a testament to the very conscientious and professional manner in which Katharine tackled all her student work whilst attending GMIT Letterfrack. It is also a great honour for all the staff on campus to have one of our students acknowledged on the world stage. We wish Katharine even more success in all her future endeavours.”

The Undergraduate Awards is the only international pan-discipline academic awards programme in the world, in operation across the island of Ireland since 2009 and operating globally since 2011. It aims to recognise the best students in the world and to connect them to one another so as to encourage inter-disciplinary co-operation that also transcends borders.

Another GMIT student, Matthew Sutton, was selected as a Highly Commended entrant to the Visual Arts category of the UA competition. This achievement puts him within the top 10% of his field. Matthew recently completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Art & Design at GMIT’s Centre for Creative Arts & Media in Galway city.

The three-day UA summit, including presentation of awards in Dublin in November, will see the top students in 22 disciplines, from all over the world, gather in the city for a celebration of the most innovative and convincing arguments coming out of undergraduate research globally.