Two young men from the United Kingdom recently won the title of Young Engineers for Britain 2001 by inventing a device meant to keep power lines clear of winged loiterers.
Brendan Quinn and Enda Young, a pair of 18-year-olds from St. Patrick’s College, Maghera in Northern Ireland, won their title with an invention they call the Self-Sustained Induction Deferrer, or SID for short. SID is an automatic pod that propels itself up and down power lines, scaring off birds as it goes. SID uses power from within the lines to drive itself along the cable.
Birds may not seem to pose much of a threat to the power lines themselves, but, perched on power lines above city streets, they can pose environmental and health problems for the people below.
Quinn and Young were inspired to engineer SID after hearing of the problems Northern Ireland Electricity has encountered with starlings on its power lines–a classic case of “find a need and fill it.” Northern Ireland Electricity reportedly is so impressed with the invention that the company is considering putting SID to use once further tests have been completed.
In winning the Young Engineers for Britain competition, Quinn and Young shared a prize of £2,500, while their school receives the same amount to spend on engineering equipment.