Student device powers to national engineering success

A team of students from the University of Plymouth have won a national competition coordinated by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

The four undergraduates entered the organisation’s 2019 Design Challenge, which encourages students to design, create, present and run a device to a strict technical specification.

Having won the regional finals to earn the title of Wessex champions, the team then succeeded in the national finals held at the at IMechE’s headquarters in London.

The team comprised Tristan Price and William Kleinstuber (BEng Mechanical Engineering), George Modica-Cliff (MEng Mechanical Engineering with Composites), and Joseph Searle (BEng Mechanical Engineering with Composites).

They had to conceive and create a device that would climb two metres up the outside of a piece of 15mm copper pipe, lifting an increasing load.

It had to be electrically powered, measure less than 300mm in height and cost less than £25, with the winning device being the quickest to get up and down the pipe successfully.

With the competition rules barring the use of lithium batteries, the Plymouth team developed a power system which used ultra-capacitors to drive a brushless motor.

This meant they were able to apply significantly more instantaneous power to accelerate their device than their competitors, with their device completing its final run in just 0.7 seconds.

As well as being awarded prizes on the day, the team has been invited to visit the Brackley headquarters of competition sponsor Mercedes AMG.

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