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University of Ulster graduate Nicole McClean is hoping that her degree will be a stepping stone to a successful career in 3D design and animation.

Twenty-two year old Nicole was awardeda First Class honours degree in Design and Communication at the University’s summer graduation ceremonies for the Magee campus.

Originally from Kilcoo in County Down, Nicole who specialised in 3D animation has already enjoyed considerable success as a designer.

During her final year Nicole designed and produced a 3D animation of a cardiovascular procedure using a new device currently under development by surgeons in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust. This was carried out in collaboration with the Clinical Transitional Research and Innovation Centre (C-TRIC) at Altnagelvin Hospital as part of the Bio-entrepreneurs Programme 2011.

Congratulating Nicole, BDes Course Director Dr Justin Magee said: “Nicole has always been a focussed and determined designer. She brings together strong organisation, problem solving and creative skills with an accomplished level of 3D technical understanding anddexterity. This enables her to tackle projects as diverse as complex product and medical visualisation to more emotive, narrative based animation.”

Nicole was also among the prizewinners at the Digital Derry Culture Tech awards 2012 for her final year project. She designed a new storytelling and publishing mobile application “Storytapp”, to illustrate children's storybooks in collaboration with her sister (and author) Kelly McClean and cousin (and programmer) Natasha O’Hare.

She also came first in the University's Office of Innovation’s, 'Innovation Generation Awards' and wasshort-listedfor theNISP £25K business awards - an entrepreneurship competition to identify cutting edge commercial opportunities.

Storytapp was developed as part of the ICE project, a competition aimed at encouraging final year students to start their own business. Nicole is using the cash prize to develop Storytapp as a prototype for the android and iSOS platforms.

After completing her Foundation year in Design at Ulster's Belfast campus, Nicole says she decided to complete her degree at Magee because of her interest in 3D design.

"I felt there were moreopportunitiesto develop my interest and skills at Magee and it was the right decision. I loved every minute of the course there.”