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Student wins international prize for life-saving device

Student Sam Wheelhouse with his winning life-saving alarm system.

Loughborough University student Sam Wheelhouse haswon one of the top prizes at the world’s biggest science and engineering fair for his life-saving alarm system.

Sam, a first year student from the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, won third place for his lifejacket device, ‘Man Overboard!’ at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.  Held in in Phoenix in the USA, the fair attracts more than 1,500 young people from 74 countries.

His invention integrates a battery-powered electronic alarm system within a conventional lifejacket, which sends a potentially life-saving signal automatically back to the ship when a person falls overboard. Sensors on the lifejacket are activated if the wearer enters the water. They trigger an LED light on the lifejacket to aid search and rescue, and also send alarm signals back to a base station on board the vessel, which then picks up the location of the person in the water via GPS. Each base station can support up to 16 individual lifejackets.

He devised the system when he was at Nottingham High School where he was a member of the Young Engineers Club - an organisation which provides after-school and teacher support activities in hundreds of UK schools.

Sam said: “I was very pleased when I won the award, even though the whole trip to Phoenix had already been a fantastic experience, it was great to come back with a prize.

“I do a lot of sailing and I have always had an interest in boats and yachting. My previous projects, including an automatic powerboat docking system, have always been marine based so I thought I would continue with this theme.”

Rod Edwards, Chief Executive of the Young Engineers charitable organisation which co-ordinates the club network, added: “Sam’s device is a brilliant example of the problem-solving and creative thinking that are at the heart of engineering. We believe there is no similar device on the market. Sam’s project shows how young engineers in our clubs can really get to grips with engineering and make a real difference.”

At the fair, Sam was awarded third place in the Engineering: Electrical and Mechanical category, along with a certificate of honourable mention from the International Council on System Engineering in the special awards category.

He was entered into the international competition after winning the title of ‘Young Engineer of the Year’ at the Big Bang Fair - the UK's biggest science and engineering fair - earlier this year.

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Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 13/97

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2011 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has been voted England's Best Student Experience for six years running in the Times Higher Education league. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 11 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

Contacts

Hannah Bateson
Public Relations Office
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228658
E: H.R.Bateson@lboro.ac.uk

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