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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Student’s innovative vest protects farmers from animal kicks

Two students, who created an innovative protective vest to protect farmers, have won the ABP Farm Safety category at BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2022.

The exhibition is one of the largest and longest-running STEM events globally.

Conor McGuirk and Bogdan Iliescu from Castleknock College, Co. Dublin examined the strengths and limitations of non-Newtonian fluids as a form of protection against attacks.

Bogdan and Conor impressed the judges with their “innovative and forward-thinking” project.

Protective vest 

They tested the potential use of fluids that change viscosity under stress as a form of protection.

When subject to rapidly applied force, non-Newtonian fluids solidify and can form a harder, protective substance.

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As part of their project, the students designed a protective vest using the non-Newtonian fluid, Oobleck.

Farms are still one of the primary sources of workplace accidents in Ireland. Therefore, the students are of the view that their project has “many” potential uses relating to farm safety.

They believe that their innovative vest can protect farmers from potential dangers such as the impact of a kick by an animal.

The students explained: “In its normal state, the protective vest would have the weight and feel of a slightly padded jacket or bodywarmer.”

“Any sudden impact will cause the fluid inside the garment to harden, protecting the body of the wearer.”

ABP Food Group has sponsored the Farm Safety category for the eighth consecutive year.

Farm safety ‘a priority’

In a statement, a spokesperson for ABP said: “The area of farm safety is a priority for ABP. It is an issue that is still prevalent in Ireland today.”

“In 2021, nine people in the farming sector were killed in work-related accidents, according to the HSA. This accounted for approximately 24% of all Irish workplace-related deaths during the year.

Kevin Cahill, managing director of ABP Ireland, said:

“I would like to congratulate Bogdan and Conor on their innovative project, which has deservedly been recognised with this year’s ABP Farm Safety Award.”

“I would like to thank all entrants who put forward projects this year. It has been truly inspiring to witness some of this year’s amazing entries and the different innovative solutions to deal with the ongoing issue of farm safety.”

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