University of Limerick students create innovative solutions with ‘Fixperts’ challenge

Led by third years in Product Design and Technology, the ‘Fixpert’ challenge aims to showcase students’ ability to solve real-life problems while making life easier for their community.

Students at the University of Limerick are putting their skills to use in the ‘Fixperts’ challenge – an initiative aimed at making life easier for community members facing everyday challenges.

The program, spearheaded by third-year Product Design and Technology students, showcases their ability to solve real-life problems through innovation and empathy.

The ‘Fixperts’ challenge engages students in a unique design education project that revolves around creative problem-solving. The concept involves forming a ‘Fix Team,’ comprised of third-year Product Design and Technology students, who collaborate with members of the community struggling with daily tasks, known as the ‘Fix Partner.’ Their mission is to craft simple, inventive, and cost-effective solutions tailored to the unique needs of their ‘Fix Partners’.

This year’s inventive solutions range from aiding a woman with rheumatoid arthritis with her crocheting to protecting an athlete’s hands as they compete in wheelchair basketball games.

Dr. Muireann McMahon, a lecturer in Product Design and Technology at the School of Design, Faculty of Science and Engineering in the University of Limerick emphasised the significance of creating solutions like these that are tailored to specific individuals.

She expressed: “A lot of the time, designers create products for much larger user groups, but with Fixperts, the students design, develop, and build a solution that works for a real person. There is a real sense of satisfaction and pride when the Fix is handed over to the Fix Partner and it succeeds in helping them do tasks others can take for granted.”

Improving the Quality of Lives 

Two students, Carlita Bowen and Úna Ní Choileáin, undertook the challenge of assisting Karen, who battles joint and muscle pain, by designing a stylish medicine travel case and containers. They discovered that Karen stored her medication in a zip-lock bag, making the process of taking medication difficult due to hand swelling. Their solution was a case containing 14 easy-open containers, carefully designed to cater to Karen’s unique needs.

Una and Carlita commented: “This 4-week project has undoubtedly been one of the most fulfilling experiences we’ve undertaken so far. Witnessing the impact our design had on someone’s life is genuinely rewarding. The collaboration with our Fix partner, Karen, was a pleasure. She was amazing to work with, always open to questions, and supportive of user testing.”

The ‘Fixperts’ program is part of an international initiative, and the standout projects from the University of Limerick will have the opportunity to participate in a global competition. In 2021, UL students Colin Coughlan and Jordan Schmidt were invited to exhibit their project in a permanent Fixperts Exhibition in Paris. Their solution addressed the challenge of tying laces for a Fix Partner with Dyspraxia, highlighting the program’s ability to drive impactful change.

The ‘Fixperts’ challenge at the University of Limerick inspires students to use their design skills to create meaningful  and impactful solutions for members of their community, emphasizing the power of innovation, empathy, and collaboration in improving people’s lives.

For more information about Fixperts, visit the website – here!

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