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Science Shop Award for SMAE Graduate Mark McEvoy

Congratulations to Mark McEvoy (pictured above in his current office space), who was recently awarded the Science Shop first prize for work completed as part of his final year project at the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Queen’s.

The Science Shop works across all university faculties linking the knowledge and skills of both students and staff with community needs through course-based research projects and dissertations. Mark's project was entitled ‘Investigation of machinery for active management techniques in the Mourne upland region’. His project was supervised by Dr Beatrice Smyth and the work was carried out in conjunction with Mourne Heritage Trust, a registered charity that works 'to sustain and enhance the environment, rural regeneration, cultural heritage and visitor opportunities of the Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and contribute to the well-being of Mourne's communities’.

Active management is required in the Mourne uplands region to ensure that the full range of potential ecosystem services is delivered. Two such active management techniques are reseeding and mowing, both of which require mechanical intervention. However, due to access difficulties and steep, rocky terrain, the use of conventional machinery is often impractical. Research into alternative techniques for mowing upland vegetation and harvesting and preparing heather seed was therefore required. Mark developed an innovative solution for the harvesting of heather seed by designing an all-terrain brush harvester. The solution incorporated several performance enhancing features including a foreign body protection system, ground-drive system, quick seed removal system and a multi-pivot drawbar. The proposed design would also result in fuel savings of 1 litre per operational hour, a reduction in ground compaction by a factor of two, and a reduction in maintenance costs of £135 per harvest season.

Mark who graduated in 2017 is currently living and working in New Zealand. In his time there so far, Mark has spent 5 months working for an agricultural contractor in the South Island, operating a vast range of machinery and providing services to the dairy farms in the harvesting of grass, barley and wheat for winter feed stocks, land cultivation prior to crop planting, and effluent spreading to fertilise those crops. He has recently moved to the North Island, where is now working for a contractor who specialises in the harvesting of maize for winter feed stocks.