In conversation with: Martin Evans, Innovative Student Engineer of the Year

28th June 2012

Martin Evans is a mechanical engineering student at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and the winner of Engineers Ireland's Innovative Student Engineer of the Year Awards 2012. Martin won top honours, and a cash prize of EUR1,500, for his final year college project: an advanced rugby scrum machine. The awards, sponsored by Siemens, are run by Engineers Ireland every year.

Martin worked with Munster Rugby on the project, redesigning the team's existing scrum machine and adding performance measurement capabilities.

The STEPS team caught up with Martin at Engineers Ireland HQ in Ballsbridge, Dublin, on the day of the Innovative Student Engineer awards ceremony, just before the winners were announced. In this audio clip, he tells us how he developed the scrum machine. Have a listen here.

We also asked Martin a few other questions about the project, his future plans, and why he chose to study engineering.

What are the benefits of your advanced scrum machine to a rugby coach?

The scrum coach can analyse the performance data. He can get different players to use the machine and get a numerical value for their performance. So he can optimise his scrummaging performance against other teams. Also, the nearest competitor to this machine costs at least EUR200,000. The system that I designed costs around EUR10,000. There's a huge market potential for it.

How did you end up working with Munster Rugby? 

Innovative-Student-awards-Cork-Winner-Martin-Evans.jpgMunster Rugby approached the college (Cork Institute of Technology), looking to increase the functionality of their existing scrummaging machine. I was given an opportunity to take on this project, so with my love of engineering and my love of rugby, I jumped at the chance.

What's the next step for the project, and what are your plans for the future?

What's next is to implement my machine into Munster's Elite Gym on CIT campus and train all the scrummaging staff and players how to navigate the software. I've applied for a patent for the machine. And Paul McCarthy, the head scrum coach at Munster Rugby, is keen to present the advanced scrum machine to the IRFU.

Meanwhile, I've secured a graduate programme with the PM Group; it's a four-year programme geared towards Chartered Engineers, so that's going to be my main objective for the next while.

Why did you choose to study engineering?

In secondary school and growing up I was always keen on finding out how things work and the mechanics of different applications. I went to an exhibition in 4th Year at CIT and I was very taken with all the projects they presented on the day, and I liked the lecturers. I think there's a very strong potential for students to develop an engineering career at CIT; the lecturers give you every minute of their time.

What about the job prospects for engineering graduates?

Of the 30 students in my class, 25 have secured employment before even completing the degree. The work prospects for students of engineering are endless; it's not just becoming a mechanical engineer -- there are several different career paths, such as manufacturing engineering, biomedical engineering.

I know several people who studied mechanical engineering; they're working in medical manufacturing, they're working on oil rigs, they're working as project managers, some are even working in banks. It's a very broad course. It's intense but the outcomes are very positive indeed.

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