End of semester displays engineering in action

While the end of Semester One tends to signal the beginning of exam season, some of our Engineering undergraduates were able to experience hands-on, visually stimulating activities to lighten the mood.

Highlights include two annual events for Part IV students that took place on the final day of the semester, drawing groups to cheer on their peers: ELECTENG 734’s IPT-Powered Remote Control Car Race, and MECHENG 712’s Glider Competition. Our Part I students also had the opportunity to exploit their creative sides on the newly overhauled ENGGEN 115 course.

Remote control car race

This annual event is one of the culminations of a Power Electronics course undertaken by final-year undergraduate students. Working in groups of two, students design and build a contactless, Inductive Power Transferred (IPT) regulator, allowing battery-operated remote control cars to move without their conventional power source.

The cars are then raced along a 13 metre IPT track to determine the finalists. These top eight students competed on a velodrome in a series of knock-out races to determine the winners of a trophy and cash prize last Friday.

Glider competition

Final-year undergraduate students in our Aerohydrodynamics course partake in this Glider Competition every year. The challenge involves constructing a glider/aircraft from a singular A2-sized sheet of drawing card carrying a standard 50 gram payload, then throwing it from the first-floor level of the University’s Recreation Centre.

Students aim for the longest time for their models to descend from the launch height to the floor of the venue. Everyone is entitled to three flights and their best attempt competes to beat a course record, as well as contribute to 5% of their overall grade.

Course coordinator Associate Professor Peter Richards joined Friday’s competition with his largest glider to date and maintained his position as the victor for the fourth year in a row, his longest winning streak so far. This is also notably his final year of participating in the competition after coordinating it for over 35 years.

3D-printed LEGO accessories

Dr Eva Hakansson has been tasked with teaching one of our core first-year courses, ENGGEN 115: Principles of Engineering Design this semester. The course itself is evolving to align with real-life expectations and technologies, which now includes introducing students to Autodesk Inventor Professional software in place of Creo.

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) is one of the course’s essential components, and the assignment was reconsidered in light of maintaining difficulty for this level of study whilst aligning to all Engineering disciplines. The assignment now involves a full-scale design project with plenty of creative freedom – students were tasked with creating accessories with a ‘sports and outdoor living’ theme that should be compatible with LEGOTM figurines.

Dr Hakansson suggests, “the simplicity of that recognisable little figure is deceptive. Its geometry is much more difficult than it initially appears due to articulated joints, making the task, in fact, quite challenging and time-consuming.”

The 562 students were further incentivised with a competitive flair – tutors selected their favourite designs from 23 streams that were later 3D printed in a biodegradable plastic and displayed in our Engineering building. The successful design project will return next semester with a different theme.