International Engineering Ambassadors
Insight into the life & course of international students.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Engineering You’re Hired! 2014

Written by: Birju Galaiya

Time for another blog! I thought this blog would be a good follow up from the previous blog. In my second year we again had a week long workshop after the January exams. This workshop builds upon the Global Engineering Challenge and was much more challenging. Have a good read.

Engineering Youre Hired was quite similar to the Global Engineering Challenge I had undertaken last year. We were split into various groups and had hubs where the demonstrator led the workshop. However there were few changes this time round. Before the week began, we were given an option of choosing 11 problems, each having its pros and cons. To name a few, the topics included Additive Manufacture of Buildings, Scavenging Energy from the Sewers and Sleep Monitoring System for Diabetics. Since I enjoyed lectures on thermal conductivity and radiation I chose the problem of designing a smart temperature control system for our engineering building called the Sir Frederick Mappin Building. We had to reduce the energy used in heating the building by making sure it was efficient.

In my group we were meant to be five students but on the first day only four turned up. We started off by carrying out a team building activity which required us to make a bridge made of straws, strings and sellotape to support a bottle of water. Although we did not know each other particularly well, we managed to work together by contributing potential ideas and discussing what is the best type of structure we could build with the resources we had. Though our bridge failed (most other groups failed as well!), it was a good way to break the ice between team members. Day two, surprisingly, only three of us turned up. You would have guessed that we would be down to two on day three but fortunately this wasnt to be. Short of numbers, we learnt how to deal with such situations by working harder and longer to cover up for other members. In industry, if your co-workers cant make it for some reason, you have to continue working regardless of the situation. It was not the ideal situation, but hey no situation is!

We prioritized our tasks and established the scope of the project- ensuring all users of the building are comfortable throughout the year by implementing innovative but affordable solution while making sure the energy required for heating the building would decrease.  Coming up with a solution was very difficult as we were overwhelmed by the large scale of the project which was further made complex by the fact that large parts of the building could not be shut down due to ongoing educational activities. After researching similar retrofit schemes carried out, we came up with a concept of using temperature sensors throughout the building and using a live control system that regulated the temperature.

One of the days, we had a short consultation meeting with an engineer from industry where we discussed our problem and the solution. He criticized our idea in a positive manner explaining what changes to be made. Throughout the week, we had representatives from different companies, such as BAE Systems, Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK and Siemens, helping us with our project. It was interesting to hear how certain problems were tackled in industry.

Finally, we had to pitch our solutions in a presentation. As this was a pitch, it was essential for us to be confident and talk about our solution without having any doubts about whether it would be the best solution. During the question and answer session after the presentation we were posed with several questions. Unfortunately some questions caught us off guard and thus we were able to give only vague answers. This experience taught me to be thorough with the research I do- its important.

After the presentations, prize winners were announced by the academic staff involved. Yes, it was a tiring week- 9-5 everyday but I gained so much from the week. I learnt about commercial awareness by researching about patents and copyrights that can limit your solution. Furthermore, I improved on my oral communication skills through presenting the solution in a professional way. Rumours have it that from next year, other faculties such as Social Science will have a similar workshop that is designed to supplement the degree by providing you with valuable skills.

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