29 Jun 2022

Killybegs students claim the coveted top prize in ATU Donegal’s DICE_TY Academy 2022

St. Catherine’s Vocational winners produce a wearable personal-safety device

Killybegs students claim  the coveted top prize  in ATU Donegal’s DICE_TY Academy 2022

The winning team 'Women in STEM’ with the rest of their school St Catherine’s Killybeg’s Academy participants and teacher Ms Nicola Sharkey

Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Donegal recently played host to the final day of the DICE_TY Academy, with a team from St Catherine’s Vocational School, Killybegs claiming the coveted top prize.

Dearbhla Gillespie, Laura O'Donnell, Isobel Nielsen, and Zoe Deane made up the winning team of four from the school where they came up with a phenomenal wearable personal-safety device that would give the wearer total peace of mind out walking, running, or exercising in general.

DICE_TY Academy, now in its fourth year, brings together 100 Transition Year students from schools around Donegal.

A short summary video of the first four days of the programme can be viewed here:

The project, led by lecturers Crona O’Donoghue and Dr Tena Patten of the Department of Design and Creative Media DICE stands for Design, Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship and forms part of DICE Labs at Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Donegal.

This year, the 2022 DICE_TY Academy spanned five action-packed days where students explored the theme of power.

The five days consisted of workshops, activities, socialising, and presenting, which were run by experts from the Department of Design and Creative Media and local enterprises.

On the final day, the students were prompted to come up with brand new, novel concepts through Design Thinking, which enabled them to create a product, service, or experience that would enhance the power of a particular user group.

Ms O’Donoghue says it is wonderful to be part of such a vibrant programme that celebrates the innovation, creativity and sensitivities of young people.

"Each year we are so impressed by the talent, enthusiasm, and entrepreneurial solutions of the DICE Academicians, as are our partners, facilitators, and judges.

"We hope the experience and the skills they pick up through the DICE_TY Academy inspire them to continue to explore the power of design.”

Prototypes were developed and presented to the judges, with prizegiving taking place at the end of the day.

New ATU president, Dr Orla Flynn, was in Letterkenny specially to give out the prizes to the winners. St Catherine’s took the top prize, with Loreto Letterkenny in second place, and St Eunan’s a close third.

Transition year students from Abbey Vocational School, Donegal Town; Deele College, Raphoe; Loreto Secondary School, Letterkenny; St Eunan’s College, Letterkenny; St Catherine’s Vocational School, Killybegs, and St Columba’s College, Stranorlar participated this year.

"We are so fortunate to have participated in the DICE_TY Academy. Our 16 students gained a wealth of experience in team building, leadership, creativity, and innovation.

"We would love this opportunity again next year. We are very fortunate in St. Catherine's to have such a dedicated group of students," said Ms Sharkey, the  TY Coordinator at St. Catherine's VS.

For more information on DICE_TY Academy, you can visit

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