Engineering Principles 1 students reach Design Challenge final

Engineering Principles 1 team photo
Engineering Principles 1 team photo

Four 1st year engineering students have reached the grand final of the Engineering for People Design Challenge 2024 for their innovative idea: the WaterBarrow.

Jessica Chen (Electronics and Computer Science) Nana-Yaw Karikari-Brobbey (Electronics and Electrical Engineering), Ossian Macdonald of Inchkenneth (Chemical Engineering), and Issy Ward (General Engineering), took part in the Design Challenge finals on 21 June at Manchester’s Stoller Hall. The four Edinburgh students joined 36 other top entrants from across the UK, and pitched their designs to a panel of judges.

The competition, organised by Engineers without Borders UK, showcases innovative students designs to bring tangible societal and environmental benefit to our world. This is the highlight of the Engineering for People Design Challenge initiative, where students from universities across the globe practice the ethos and skills necessary for becoming responsible engineers. This year, the Design Challenge was located in Pu Ngaol, a small village in the Cambodian forests.

The Engineering for People Design Challenge is an integral part of Engineering Principles 1, the flagship course in the School of Engineering. The team of Issy, Nana, Ossian and Jessica continued their design journey beyond the course to eventually reach the grand final. Their progress was supported by a team of Engineering Principles 1 academics led by Dr Simone Dimartino, who employed coaching and facilitation methods to foster creative innovation and intrinsic motivation into the group of students.

“The WaterBarrow is a simple water collection and filtration device” says Jessica. “It consists of a barrel that can be rolled into a river, like the Ou Te river in Pu Ngaol, to collect water. Once filled, a filter inside purifies the water as it is rolled back home.” Issy continues: “Beyond considering elements like cost, maintenance and durability, we focused on ensuring social acceptance and even proposed a business model for a ‘home delivery water service’. This initiative will create jobs while providing a fundamental service to the population, e.g. offering relief to the disabled community.”

Dr Simone Dimartino, who until 2024 led the Engineering Principles 1 course, said: “Issy, Jessica, Nana and Ossian have gifted me a tremendous design journey this year. Their dedication, creative innovation, and inclusive group work are truly inspiring and empowering. I enjoyed every minute of my interactions with them, and I am thrilled to see them reaching the grand final!”.

Ossian said: “Dr. Dimartino was incredible in inspiring us to achieve this result! His Engineering Principles 1 course showed us what it takes to be an engineer that can have a strong impact to the benefit of our world and our society. In the last couple of months, as we started venturing for the grand final, he worked very closely to us, guiding us through our own path to discover our inner potential as engineers. This galvanised us into our own invention, the WheelBarrow, to make the difference for the people in Pu Ngaol.”

Nana said: “My highlight is when Dr Dimartino prompted us to define what success looks like for us. I remember I shared: We’re success! Success is our learning experience thus far, the uniqueness of our group, and the chance to get to the Engineering for People Design Challenge grand final! Now that the final is over, I am very grateful to have experienced this journey together with everyone in the team!”