by Georgia Madden, Rebbekah Astbury & Megan Lea.
Biomedical and mechanical engineering students Georgia Madden, Rebbekah Astbury & Megan Lea talk about their recent experience entering an IMechE 24-hour design challenge. The team came fourth overall, which was made all the more impressive, as they were the only group of first-year students competing.
During the 13th and 14th of February 2021, myself and two of my classmates entered a design competition ran by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). This was our first time competing in a group-based engineering competition run by the IMechE. What’s more, we were also the only all-female team within the competition.
The competition gave students a design brief on Saturday morning and then allowed only 24 hours to complete the design, technical data plus a presentation to a panel of judges.
The 2021 IMechE challenged us to design a system to transport potable water from a water treatment plant to the local community in the town of Ambleside, Cumbria. Within our proposed system we also had to include a sensor that could monitor any leakages or changes in the water levels within the pipes.
The competition was an invaluable experience to utilise and expand our knowledge of engineering and design to find solutions to real-life problems based on the briefs given by companies. It allowed us to apply engineering equations and theories to real-life problems such as fluid mechanics and flow rate.
Our group proposed a solution where the waterpipe system would run alongside the main road in Ambleside (the A593). We reached this decision to reduce complicated construction and therefore would allow for ease of maintenance from workers. The proposed system consisted of two water pumps (the C3000 pump from Xylem), five gate vales which are equally placed throughout the system, five non-return valves which are also placed equally throughout the system and 3380 meters (or 2.1 miles) of pipeline to transport the potable water.
The main factor we had to consider within our design solution was the environmental and social impact of our proposed route. We had to consider the number of trees which would need to be cut down for our pipe system to be built – to stop the corruption of the pipes. One solution we came up with to stop this causing environmental problems was to create a new ‘forest’ on the opposite side of the main road. We also had to consider the effects of using infrastructure instead of greenfield, and the social and environmental impact of closing roads within the local community.
After designing our proposed system, we planned and carried out a ten-minute presentation for the panel of IMechE judges. The group received some great feedback from the judges which will help us develop our skills and take advantage of future opportunities. Overall, we finished in 4th place at the end of the 24-Hour Design Challenge.
Entering the 24-Hour Design Challenge was a great experience for all three of us.