Well I'm just back from the Athlone Institute of Technology & could not be happier! xD After being in contact with Michael for several weeks in relation to getting a prototype made for our mini-company product "Knot a Problem", today we finally got the chance to speak with him and his colleagues about our design.
The day seemed off to a bad start when we got stuck in traffic on the motor-way & had to take several diversions, due to an accident. Despite this however, we managed to arrive at 12:03, just 3 minutes late! We were introduced to Michael himself first, who told us our schedule for the day & brought us over to James who discussed our designs, proposed ways of improving it & talked about the manufacturing process. He also brought us around & showed us some of the high-tech machines they use in the Institute for prototyping. I had no idea the machinery, materials & cost for manufacture was so expensive! The moulds alone for our original design were estimated at a price of approximately €6'000! :(
Next we were brought to another board room where we met Ann-Marie Durkin, a very successful entrepreneur....creater of Steri Soother & Steri-Ova (a compact, portable & quick steriliser for babies bottles). She told us about her rise to the top...how she started out, the difficulties she encountered & how she overcame them. Her story really was inspiring; it is amazing how far determination for success can take you! They had prepared an entire powerpoint presentation just for us! When that was over, we were shown into a small lunch room where an array of sandwiches was laid out for us. During lunch, we chatted with Michael & Ann-Marie about TY...the opportunities it creates & they expressed their interest in the work we were doing....they thought it was a great idea that we were getting business experience; meeting with clients & such at a young age and told us they would help us in any way they could ^_^
Finally at around 14:00, we met with Conor; an apparent "genius" at design & engineering :) After chatting with him, it became clear that we had to change our design completely; it was too complex, had too many components & materials & would cost much more than a group of school students could afford =] So after some deliberation, we decided on a slightly larger & straightforward model & he agreed to make a prototype for us before our visit to the Moate Theatre on the 15th November....so hopefully everything will go according to plan & our product will not snap in half during our demo! xD
We are all so grateful to the institute for giving up their free time to meet with us especially on such short notice & it was clear they had put a lot of planning into our visit. They told us to keep them updated throughout the year & let them know how our product was getting on; I'm still trying to comprehend why they were so willing to help without asking for anything in return!