Military training is typically about the use of lethal force but for UNSW industrial design student Sam Adeloju, army experience was the inspiration for a life-saving idea.

Sam's exposure to hi-tech grenade propulsion technology during training with the Army Reserves gave him the idea for a flotation device that could be safely fired over a long distance as a soft, expandable projectile to someone drowning at sea.

The 23-year-old's Longreach buoyancy deployment system is now one of three designs by UNSW Faculty of Built Environment industrial design students in the running for this year's James Dyson Award.

Sam and fellow 2009 graduates Justine Smith, 23, and Gonzalo Portas, 38, are among the 13 finalists selected for the Dyson Award, the student category of the Australian Design Award.

Justine conceived of her Spinovo electronic pain relief garment after seeing her father suffer from chronic back pain and finding no one product able to provide a complete solution.

"I was quite interested in using smart textiles to take a holistic approach rather than just heat or electrical stimulation," she said.

Gonzalo Portas' Pulse heart transportation system aims to improve the conditions under which organs for transplant can be carried.

"The idea basically came from seeing how we transplant organs in ice boxes and thinking there's got to be a better way," Gonzalo said.

The winner of the James Dyson Award will be announced on June 4 and in the meantime Sam and Gonzalo are looking at options to take their designs further.

Sam has had interest in Longreach from an entrepreneurial group and a sporting association, while Gonzalo is investigating further development of the Pulse with a Sydney-based surgeon.

UNSW Media Office: Peter Trute | 02 9385 1933 |