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Ulster University Graduations: Why Lucinda has designs on technological success

By Rebecca Black

Published 01/07/2015

Lucinda Mulholland hasn't let being profoundly deaf become a barrier to her educational success
Lucinda Mulholland hasn't let being profoundly deaf become a barrier to her educational success

Being profoundly deaf did not stand in Lucinda Mulholland's way, and today she will proudly collect her first class degree.

The Carryduff woman achieved first class honours in her product and furniture design degree from Ulster University, and it is all down to her tenacity and a life-transforming piece of technology.

Lucinda was diagnosed at the age of one-and-a-half as profoundly deaf and had cochlear implant surgery which she credits as having been truly life-changing.

"My cochlear implant has given me the confidence to be more social and grab opportunities with both hands," she said.

"Without this groundbreaking technology, I would not be the person I am today.

"It really sparked my interest in design from a young age and how it can be used to improve people's quality of life. When my parents discovered that I was profoundly deaf, like any parents, they were worried about my future, but I have never let it hold me back."

Lucinda admitted that she felt nervous on her first day at university, but praised the help she has received.

"At Ulster University I got support to overcome any barriers, including a note-taker for lectures and seminars," she said.

"My lecturers and classmates were also really supportive and had great deaf awareness, which made the university experience much easier for me."

During her third year of study, Lucinda got the opportunity to take part in a one-year work experience placement with James Leckey Design, a global leader in the development of equipment for children with postural needs.

"For my placement year, I was lucky enough to secure a design engineer position with James Leckey Design," she said.

"It was a really important milestone for me and gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in the working world and discover ways to overcome challenges such as communication with clients."

One of the highlights of Lucinda's degree was working on a project to help children with mobility difficulties.

"I got the opportunity to work on Leckey's Firefly Scoot Seat project, which is designed to help children with mobility problems get about with minimum effort," she said.

"I was involved in the whole process, right through from concept design to production.

"As someone whose life has been transformed by technology, my favourite part of the experience was the clinical trials, when I got to see how children interacted with the prototype. The smiles on their faces said it all. It was a real sense of achievement to be part of a team that is touching the lives of so many children worldwide.

"The product has won the international Red Dot Design Award, which is an amazing achievement. It's always been a dream of mine to receive this award and I never thought I would get it so soon, or even before I graduated!"

Lucinda's dream is to design the next wonder product.

"In the future I want to travel the world to gather design inspiration from different countries and cultures," she said. "The dream is to pursue a career in product design. You never know, you might even see me on Dragon's Den someday."

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