12 November, 2019

Brunel and Durham engineering students win 2018 Design Challenge

22 November, 2018

Student teams from Brunel University London and Durham University have been crowned champions of this year’s Design Challenge, which is organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers to encourage young engineers to develop their technical and design skills.


Around 2000 engineering undergraduates from across UK take part in the annual Design Challenge, a competition that provides a taste of the ‘real world’ of engineering by setting teams of up to 5 students a task to design, build, test and present a mechanical device based on a predefined technical specification.

It is open to first- and second-year students – Brunel’s team won this year’s award for second year students, while Durham won the first-year student category.

The Design Challenge is intended to complement the academic curriculum and allows participants to showcase their design skills and innovative ideas in projects that form part of their course.

The final, which was held at the Institution’s headquarters in London, featured devices designed to climb autonomously up inside a pipe carrying an increasing load.

This year, the successful projects included a scissor design that moved up and down the tube in under four seconds, a design with caterpillar treads that worked on a timer to successfully stop at the correct point and also an exciting design propelled using canisters of carbon dioxide.

 Real-life application

“We set up the Design Challenge to show students that their academic studies have real-life application. We want to build on their interest to study the subject and subsequently follow an engineering career. The students give us great confidence for the future of engineering in the UK,” said Colin Brown, chief executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

“The experience was truly valuable. We have become better engineers by learning to work to deadlines, the presentation and poster competition made us more ready for the corporate world,” said Sam Whelan, leader of the Durham University team.

For the universities, the competition is a valuable opportunity to develop their creative and technical skills.

“The Design Challenge provides an essential and stimulating professional-level engineering project through which students can benchmark themselves against not only other universities but, most importantly, the expectations of industry,” said Mark Atherton, professor of design engineering at Brunel University London.

 Winner details

1st Year Winners:

National Champion: Durham University (Northeast Region).

Poster Competition: Coventry University (Midlands Region).

Presentation Competition: Coventry University (Midlands Region).

Design Excellence: University of East London (GLR).

3rd Place: Coventry University (Midlands Region).

Runner-Up: University of Salford (Northwest Region).

2nd Year Winners:

National Champion: Brunel University London (GLR).

Poster Competition: Manchester Metropolitan University (Northwest Region).

Presentation Competition: Manchester Metropolitan University (Northwest Region).

Design Excellence: Manchester Metropolitan University (Northwest Region).

Runner-Up: Manchester Metropolitan University (Northwest Region).




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