Brothers Shane and Calum Murray from Balla, Castlebar, knew what they were doing when they designed a device that can remove and refit a 500 kilo tyre, thus eliminating a lot of manual labour and potential back problems for those using heavy agricultural machinery.
As third year Mechanical Engineering students at the IT Sligo, they both knew that their Rim Lift Wheel Changer would be very beneficial when working with their father, Fintan Murray, an agricultural contractor.
“We wanted something which would improve health and safety by eliminating the danger of heavy wheels falling, which apart from the damage to whatever is around could also do a lot of harm to backs,” explained Shane Murray.
For their end of year project Shane (25 ) and Calum (21 ) and two classmates, came up with a system which can lift rims and tyres on heavy plant such as tractors, trucks and slurry tankers by grabbing the rim and then transferring it to a trailer. “This means that if you have a puncture you don’t need two fellows to get the wheel off. That saves money because if someone had to come and pick it up it could cost €100. Our father has seen it work and is impressed,” said Shane Murray, who pointed out that two Mayo companies now want to talk to the brothers about using the device.
The students have adapted the wheel changer so that it is a multi-purpose machine which can also be used as a crane for taking engines out of machines. It can lift heavy objects such as half ton bags of manure.
Shane Murray who is keen to work in the areas of design, manufacturing and sales, said the project was typical of the kind of hands-on experience on offer at IT Sligo. “When I go back to the family business I see how relevant everything we have learned is,” he explained. “I would really like to continue with the programme and get an honours degree as I know it will enhance my chances of getting the kind of work I would enjoy”.
As energy prices soar and more and more people consider renewable energy options, Belmullet student Karen Barrett, chose a timely theme when picking her end of year project.
Karen (29 ) and three fellow students built a wind generator which will now be used as a research and teaching aid at the Institute. Karen, who worked as an office administrator before deciding to follow her heart and enrol on IT Sligo’s Mechanical Engineering programme as a mature student, has had no regrets.
“I am interested in design and this project was a real challenge,” said Karen, who used copper coils and rare earth magnets to build the generator.
Karen’s project was on display at the Institute at the annual end of year Graduate Exhibition recently. She is hoping that the practical experience the course has provided will be useful in the workplace “All the other members of my family have had to emigrate to Canada and Australia, so I’d like to stay in Ireland and there is work out there”.\
Students can study Mechanical Engineering at IT Sligo through a range of flexible learning methods. To find out more see www.itsligo.ie