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Plymouth graduate wins UK James Dyson Award for 3D-printed hand

Joel Gibbard left a job with an engineering company to dedicate himself to his invention. Credit: Open Bionics

A Plymouth graduate who started trying to make a better prosthetic hand while at university has won the UK's 2015 James Dyson Award.

25-year-old Joel Gibbard achieved a First-Class Robotics degree in 2011, and has since created a ground-breaking robotic hand for amputees, through his company, Open Bionics.

Using 3D printing, the hand can be made in just 40 hours for under £2,000 - a fraction of the cost of conventional prosthetics.

It allows an amputee to do the same things as a traditional, expensive prosthetic hand, right down to individual finger movements, by using electromyographical sensors which are stuck to their skin.

“We’ve encountered many challenges in designing our hands but the reactions of the individuals we help fuels our perseverance to bring them to market. My aim is for Open Bionics to disrupt the prosthetics industry by offering affordable prosthetics for all.”

– Joel Gibbard, winner, 2015 National UK James Dyson Award

“I am impressed by how much Open Bionics can improve lives of amputees. By listening to the potential users, Joel is providing the functionality they want at low cost – making appropriate use of technology and 3D printing.”

– Anne Dowling, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and national James Dyson Award judge

"By using rapid prototyping techniques, Joel has initiated a step-change in the development of robotic limbs. Embracing a streamlined approach to manufacturing allows Joel's design to be highly efficient, giving more amputees’ access to advanced prosthetics.”

– Sir James Dyson, inventor

Joel gets £2,000 for his win - which he intends to spend on a new 3D printer - and advances to the international stage of the competition, in which Dyson engineers whittle 100 entries from around the world down to just 20.

The results will be announced next month, with the winner awarded £30,000 to work on their invention.


Plymouth University to build world's first unmanned ship

Artists impression of the Mayflower Autonomous Research Ship. Credit: Plymouth University

Plymouth University has revealed its plans to build the world's first full size unmanned ship to sail across the Atlantic Ocean.

The ship will be named the 'Mayflower Autonomous Research Ship' and will replicate the sailing of the 'pilgrim fathers' from Devon.

It will be the first of its kind in the world, as it will be unmanned and powered by renewable energy.

All going well, the project is aiming to have the ship ready to sail on the 400th anniversary the pilgrim voyage in 2020.

The ship will be unmanned and powered by renewable energy. Credit: Plymouth University

Homegrown epilepsy app could save lives

EpSMon will help sufferers monitor their condition better. Credit: ITV News

A new app that's been developed here in the West Country could help save the lives of epilepsy sufferers around the world.

The EpSMon app has been created by NHS Cornwall, Plymouth University and epilepsy charity SUDEP Action.

It will help sufferers monitor their condition and highlight when they need medical help.

Paralysed Plymouth graduate makes award-winning documentary

Jonathan Brough was left paralysed by meningitis Credit: ITV News Westcountry

A Plymouth University graduate has become an international award winning documentary maker - despite not being able to hold a camera.

Jonathan Brough was left paralysed from the neck down after contracting meningitis on his gap year. But he didn't let the disease hold him back and created a project documenting his life after meningitis.

His film 'Perseverance Beyond Doubt' won an Award of Merit in the Best Short Films Competition. The 16 minute film tells the story of his efforts to cope with the effects of meningitis.

Last year, despite his disability and the fact he requires round the clock care, he fulfilled his dream of pursuing his studies and achieved a First in BA (Hons) Media Arts at Plymouth University.

“It was a privilege for my film to have been chosen for consideration let alone to win an award. I want my story to show how it’s not the disability that defines you but who you are and the way you approach life. My films are a message of positivity and hope which proves how disability doesn’t have to be limited by what we think we can or cannot do.”

– Jonathan Brough
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