Belfast Telegraph

Injured man defies medics and is honoured by Google

by Natalie Irvine

A man who was told by medics his quality of life would be zero after he suffered damage to the base of his brain, has won a Google scholarship towards his Master of Philosophy degree in Computing.

At the end of June, David Todd from south Belfast, took off on an all expenses paid “scholars’ retreat”, to the prestigious Google European headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, and collected his €7,000 grant towards his studies at the University of Ulster.

David, who sustained the debilitating injury during a rugby game as a student said: “Only seven such scholarships were awarded right across the EU, Switzerland, and Israel. Winning the Google Scholarship for students with disabilities was quite an achievement. It was not just an enjoyable trip, this was a valuable learning experience; in particular with regard to the networking fostered among so many bright young computer scientists.

“It is great to have the scholarship on my CV. I am sure it will help open many doors for me in the future.”

In 1989, David was at Edinburgh University studying medicine when he had his accident. Due to a collision in loose play David suffered a major bleed from an artery at the base of the brain.

Medics at the time predicted that his quality of life would be zero — never speaking, never sitting up unaided, and being fed through a tube for the rest of his life. Fortunately David made a miraculous recovery although he is wheelchair bound and his speech is restricted.

David, a tenant of one of The Cedar Foundation’s supported living facilities in Finaghy, is a lead user in The Cedar Foundation and University of Ulster Brain Research Project. As part of this, David had the opportunity to do an M Phil in Computing at Jordanstown, a post grad qualification earned by thesis with focus on BCI (Brain Computer Interaction) Interface Evaluation.

Having started his four year part-time postgraduate degree earlier this year, David will be using his €7,000 award to contribute towards his fees and the cost of several conferences during the course of his studies.

The Cedar Foundation works in partnership with disabled people across Northern Ireland providing quality support, care, accommodation and training services to enable disabled adults and children to participate in all aspects of community life.

Belfast Telegraph


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