Engineers in Business Awards made for New Polo Mallet Head, Magic Bin and Low-Cost Bottled Water for Poor Communities
The winning team showing off their new mallet head prototype.
Nottingham University Business School’s Engineers in Business competition, which is sponsored and judged by Sainsbury Management Fellows, has inspired undergraduate students to create three innovations, with first prize awarded to the Precicio Polo Team for a prototype of a new polo mallet head that will level the playing field for women.
The runner-up prize went to the Crush Em’s Team for its solar-sensitive dustbin that aims to combat the problem of overflowing bins that contribute to councils spending £1 billion per annum clearing litter, and third prize went to the Rain Water Cycle team for the design of a low-cost system for producing bottled water for poor communities in India.
Chris Mahon, Director of Nottingham University Business School’s innovative MBA in Entrepreneurship programme and module convenor for the Entrepreneurship and Business module that hosts the competition, said: “There is growing enthusiasm for the competition, with a 25% increase in participation this year compared to last. There is great synergy between engineering and business, and competing students had to demonstrate the use of key skills including research, engineering know-how, creative design and marketing strategy in order to develop their product concept. The winners are very deserving!”
David Falzani, SMF President and Visiting Professor in Sustainable Wealth Creation at NUBS said: “The Engineers in Business competition encourages young engineers to get more involved in business innovation; the winning entries illustrate perfectly how to combine innovation and engineering skills to produce new solutions to long-standing problems.”
New Polo Mallet Head – First Prize Winner: £1,500 and Mentoring from SMFs
The winning team showing off their new mallet head prototype
Precicio Polo Team’s re-designed polo mallet makes it easier to wield by people of smaller physical stature; this typically applies to female and young players.
James Thorn from the Precicio Polo Team explained, “Polo is one of the few true unisex sports and is played in 84 countries. At grassroots level 65% of players are female, yet on the professional circuit, the sport is dominated by men.
“Our desk and focus group research with Nottingham Polo Club led us to conclude that a better-designed mallet would allow more people to participate in the sport. Our design of the polo mallet evens the playing field for women by reducing its weight, improving accuracy and durability, giving more value than the traditional mallet.”
The Precicio Polo Team looked at different ways of mechanically improving the properties of the different parts of the mallet. The production of the prototype required 3D modelling, as well as key machining techniques within the L2 engineering workshop to bore out a solid aluminium block to produce a wall thinness of 1.7mm and to house structurally distributed supports as well as specific weighting canals to increase the moment of inertia of the mallet so the ball stays truer to the player’s swing.
Referred to as the ‘sport of kings,’ polo is becoming increasingly popular, partly due to increased broadcasting of the sport. In the UK, there has been a significant rise in the number of polo clubs with some 3,000 registered players and 1,500 educational establishments participating. The Precicio polo mallet will help this greater participation.
Crush Em’s Solves Litter Problems – Second Prize Winner: £1,000
Keep Britain Tidy would surely welcome the ingenious Crush Em’s automated waste compressor concept. The team designed an eco-friendly, solar powered, attractive litter bin containing an inbuilt compressor which literally crushes the rubbish inside the bin.
Crush Em’s design incorporates a sensor, known as a light dependent resistor, which detects when the bin reaches capacity, at which point the whole bin darkens in the shade and automatically triggers a motor that compresses its waste load, creating 80% new capacity. This means the bin could be used for much longer. More bin space would encourage people to drop litter in the bin, not on the street, eliminating unsightly, unhygienic overflowing public bins, creating a cleaner, safer and more attractive environment.
Tekena Ojimba from the Crush Em’s Team said, “Our design also features an alert system which would connect to councils’ waste departments to notify them when bins reach maximum capacity. Because Crush Em’s creates up to 80% more capacity per bin, local councils would be able to reduce the frequency of collections, making savings on labour, admin and transportation costs and divert savings to other local services.”
Rain Water Cycle – Third Prize Winner: £500
Third prize went to Rain Water Cycle for its eponymously named product concept which was designed to provide clean water for people living in rural areas of India where clean water is scarce. According to Rain Water Cycle’s research, many people die from water-borne related diseases due to contaminated water. The Rain Water Cycle product would provide clean water at a much more affordable price.
The research revealed that communities in many parts of India struggle to create sustainable methods of distributing water and bottled water is sold at a fairly high price. The Rain Water Cycle team designed a system that would deliver bottled water for 50% less than the majority of bottled water being sold. While the initial set-up cost would be high the team calculated that long term its system would be able to produce much cheaper bottled water because of the low maintenance cost of its system.
Shridhar Chaudhary from the Rain Water Cycle team explained, “Rain Water Cycle would collect rainwater through drain holes in collection tanks, the collected water would then pass through a reverse osmosis filtration system. In reverse osmosis filtration systems, the contaminated water passes through a semi-permeable membrane at an applied pressure, leaving behind all the contaminations, resulting in clean water.
“Since the water would be forced through the semi-permeable membrane, it would require a high level of pressure, and this high level of pressure would require energy, which would be achieved through an electrically-powered motor pump. The clean water would then pass through a post-carbon filter, which would remove any remaining contamination, odours and tastes from the water. Finally, the filtered water would be bottled and packaged and sold at a fraction of the cost of other bottled water.”