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Coleg Menai students get musical with light-activated instrument for disabled; Claire NightingaleGrw p Llandrillo Menai, Bangor.

Talented engineering students from Coleg Menai were successful at the recent EESW Big Bang event in Llandudno. The big winner on the day was Coleg Menai, with the team scooping prizes totalling PS1,000, in two of the three categories for which it was shortlisted. There were seven prizes available in total.

Stephanie Harris, Robyn Vaughan-Williams and Bryn Jones, all of whom study Level 3 Diploma in Mechanical Engineering, made up Coleg Menai's team. They won 'Best Adapted Innovative Design' sponsored by the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the 'Most Innovative Solution' sponsored by Siemens. They were also shortlisted for the 'Best Project Report'.

Their winning project is an entirely new, light-activated, musical instrument that can be used by a severely paralysed or disabled person. The instrument, a prototype, uses a mechanical slider to create a musical tone, and it can be operated very simply by touch. Stephanie explained: "We wanted a project that would benefit people in some way. We have a powerful and profound connection with music and it has been shown to greatly improve quality of life, not just in those who have a disability but in people who have other types of life-limiting illnesses such as dementia or Alzheimer's."

Bryn Jones added: "It's been a great experience working on this project. Being mechanical engineers, we learned new electrical engineering skills to complete this project. We are especially grateful for the support we received from Ray Davies at PAWB. His support and belief in us has been invaluable."

Iolo Williams, the tutor at Coleg Menai added: "The challenge this year was to try to improve on the previous two years success in the scheme. I assembled a team that would be working not so much in mechanical engineering, but with a more electronicsbased project. Having won two awards from three nominations this year, I was exceptionally pleased with the way our team performed on the day, as well as the many long days they spent working with Ray Davies on the project.

Having been nominated to represent North Wales at the UK finals next year, I am looking forward to hopefully celebrating further success with our project - as well as seeing our team members go from strength to strength in engineering."

Partnering the students on the project was the Photonics Academy of Wales at Bangor (PAWB). Ray Davies, the director at PAWB, worked with the students to help them come up with an ambitious solution involving photonics: the science of harnessing light for the benefit of humankind. Clearly impressed by the students' commitment and skills, Ray commented: "The photonics project produced was a very fine scientific achievement of considerable quality."

For more information about engineering courses at Coleg Menai go to


Coleg Menai team with its solution

Coleg Menai team receiving one of its awards

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 14, 2016
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