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'We were the only all-female group to make the finals'


Kelly Lane of CIT.

Kelly Lane of CIT.

Kelly Lane of CIT.

Kelly Lane didn't get her preferred choice, nursing, on the CAO Level 8 list, but she was just as happy to accept an offer for her top course on the Level 7 list, biomedical engineering.

The 22-year-old had a keen interest in both maths and biology while attending Mercy College, Model Farm, Road, Cork but dropped back to ordinary level maths in the Leaving Certificate because of fear of failing at higher level.

Although Kelly, from Riverstick, Cork, achieved an A1 at ordinary level maths, not having "honours" meant that she was ruled out of Level 8 engineering courses - but, having done her research she knew that she could arrive at the same destination by starting at Level 7.

Three years on, Kelly has completed her course at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) achieving a 2.1 grade, allowing her to progress into year three of the four-year, Level 8 biomedical engineering programme in September. It means that instead of taking four years to achieve the honours degree, it takes five.

Meanwhile, Kelly has been busy over the summer doing more work on the Level 7 final-year project that she developed with fellow students, Emma O'Leary and Nicole Dunphy, with a view to bringing it to market.

A chance conversation with a friend inspired Kelly's idea for an automated milking device for lactating sows, to overcome problems such as crushing at feeding time, which causes high mortality rates among piglets.

The device milks the sow using vacuum and the milk is delivered into a feeding unit with nipples where the piglets can safely feed.

The impressive trio made it to this year's finals of the Engineers Ireland Innovative Student Engineer of the Year award, the only all-female group to achieve that distinction.

The project was also selected for inclusion in the 'Student Inc' programme, which provides seed funding, mentoring and office space for a 12-week period in CIT's Rubicon Centre, an innovation hub jointly sponsored by Enterprise Ireland.

Kelly is really happy that she started with a Level 7, as her lecturers tell her that industry favours students who have come through this route "because they have had to work a bit harder".

While dipping her toe into the entrepreneurial market this summer, Kelly is also confident that there will be a wealth of job opportunities in the biomedical sector.

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