Plant & Works Engineering
Plymouth and Brunel engineering students win 2019 Design Challenge
Published:  07 November, 2019

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

Around 3,500 engineering undergraduates from across the UK take part annually in the Design Challenge, a competition that provides participants with a taste of the ‘real world’ of engineering. Teams of up to five students are tasked to design, build, test and present a mechanical device following a set technical specification.

Open to first- and second-year students, the Design Challenge is intended to complement the academic curriculum and presents participants with the opportunity to demonstrate their design skills and innovative ideas which form part of their course, outside of the regular studying environment.

Colin Brown, chief executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers said,

‘By creating the Design Challenge, we wanted to demonstrate to students that their university studies have real-life, practical application. We want to encourage their academic interest in the engineering industry, and subsequently progress into embarking on a career in Mechanical Engineering. The standard and enthusiasm we have seen in this year’s teams gives us great confidence in the future of the Engineering profession in the UK.’

Held at the Institution’s London headquarters, the 2019 final featured autonomous devices designed to climb up the outside of a 15mm copper pipe, carrying an increasing load. This year’s first year student competition was won by Plymouth University, the second year by Brunel.

‘Competing in this year’s Design Challenge has been really rewarding, but also very challenging at times. It’s an excellent opportunity to apply the skills you have learnt in the first and second years of your degree course, and really prove that you have a good understanding of the valuable skills required to be a competent engineer.’

‘It’s been a privilege to take part in the national final as well as the regional final, and to win both of them,’ said Mark Galea, leader of the Brunel University Team.

For the universities taking part at every stage, the competition is a valuable opportunity to develop their students creative and technical skills.

When discussing the impact of the challenge, Alan Moss, Design Challenge Judge said. ‘Universities should take part in this competition because it challenges their students to do exactly the kind of thing that they need to be able to do when they graduate and move on into industry. They need to be able to work together with people, project manage, overcome difficulties around design, build prototypes and ultimately, iterate their way to a working solution.’

As part of ongoing STEM activity by the Institution, 60 Children from Chalgrove Primary School visited the competition and took part in variety of engineering tasks as part of an education programme to encourage more young people to consider engineering as a career


1st Year Winners:

• National Champions: Plymouth University (Wessex Region)

• Runner-up: First years: University of Central Lancashire (North West Region)

• 3rd place: University of Durham (North East Region)

• Poster Competition: University of Durham (North East Region)

• Presentation Competition: University of Durham (North East Region)

• Design Excellence: Plymouth University (Wessex Region)

2nd Year Winners:

• National Champions: University of Brunel (Greater London Region)

• Runner-up: First years: University of Coventry (Midland Region)

• Poster Competition: University of Coventry (Midland Region)

• Presentation Competition: University of Brunel (Greater London Region)

• Design Excellence: University of Coventry (Midland Region)