The University of Sheffield

University Logo  

Engineering You’re Hired is an intensive one-week activity that is compulsory for all 2nd years within the Faculty of Engineering. Students choose their problem and are then placed in multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural teams to work on a conceptual design and a plan for a project to take the design to the “proof of concept stage”.

The competition gives engineers the skills, and evidence of those skills, that will make them a highly employable engineer. It gives students experience of working as a professional engineer would do, facing some of the challenges of the real workplace.

Amongst other elements, the competition covers effective working (eg goal setting to tackle problems that achieve a clearly defined aim), time management to meet deadlines and cope with the fluidity of changing situations, collaborative working and presenting ideas to a range of people including prospective clients.

Winner: Automatic Control & Systems Engineering - Kevin Kristianto, Aeronautical Engineering; Finley Mackenzie, Aeronautical Engineering; Szymon Kasak, Electronic & Electrical Engineering; Ziyue Wang, Electronic & Electrical Engineering; Armand Keyworth, Mechanical Engineering - £1,500 Engineers in Business Prize

The team won first prize for the idea of creating commercial electric aircraft. With fossil fuel powered aircraft estimated to produce 43 Gt of carbon pollution by 2050, the ever-increasing harm this pollution is doing to the planet and dwindling resources of fossil fuels available, the need for an aircraft that relies on renewable energy to power the aircraft and a solution that is environmentally friendly is needed now more than ever. The challenge was to produce a commercial electric airliner that would replace 20% of European short haul fleets, reduce emissions to EU targets (80% reduction), reduce noise to FAA Standards (90dB) and have these aircraft implemented by 2050. With the targets we came up with a set of specific design specifications, the most important being:

• Under 90dB during take-off and landing
• Short haul flight-capable (up to 3 hours)
• Turnaround time under 2 hours
• Can carry at least 50 passengers
• Safety up to standard (FAA, etc)
• 80% reduction in emissions by 2050
• Affordability of fuel source when infrastructure is in place

With the specifications set, we created a design matrix with each specification having a numerical weighting in terms of importance. Our initial three ideas were a hybrid tiltrotor aircraft, an aircraft with a hybrid system of kerosene and batteries and a hydrogen fuel celled aircraft. Our design matrix showed us that for the specifications stated the hydrogen fuel cell aircraft was the best choice.

Having looked at projects such as the E-Fan X and the Lilium jet and taking inspiration from hydrogen-fuelled cars, our solution was to have a hybrid system that uses hydrogen fuel cells and batteries to power the aircraft. Looking into aircraft that carries a similar number of passengers, we based our calculations of the Fokker 50 aircraft which was a 58-passenger airliner which used two Turboprop engines to produce 3728 KW of power. In order to produce this amount of thrust our innovation uses two 2MW large ducted fans powered by induction motors making it a fully electric system.

The next stages are to have full design complete up to FAA standards, have research and development conducted so that fuel stations for the hydrogen fuel cells and infrastructure is in place, secure funding from various sources and/or join with a larger company in order to complete the project and have prototyping and testing finished by 2037 so that manufacture of the aircraft can be sold commercially. This innovation will reduce carbon emissions, use renewable fuels instead of non-renewable sources and can be implemented in automobiles as well as aircraft. The design also has the potential to deliver long haul flights in the future if research and testing are undertaken.
Second Place Winner: William Stokes-Roberts, Aeronautical Engineering; Sana Hussain, Chemical & Biological Engineering; Christopher Sue, Chemical & Biological Engineering; Ho Lam Kwan, Electronic & Electrical Engineering; Alastair White, Mechanical Engineering - £1,000 Engineers in Business Prize

The team won second prize for the idea of creating a nuclear desalination plant.
Third Place Winner: Making Homes Smarter - Ashley Taillepierre Tsoka, Chemical and Biological Engineering; Sam Mason, Bioengineering; Aaron Day-Civil and Structural Engineering; Mark Michael, Civil and Structural Engineering; Mhairi Parsons, General Engineering - £500 Engineers in Business Prize

During ‘Engineering You’re Hired’ a multidisciplinary team project week within our university we were tasked with designing something biomimetic to maintain a comfortable living environment in UK homes.

The team came up with the idea of honeycomb blinds as a solution to prevent excess heat loss in homes through windows. The honeycomb structure within the blinds allows air to act as an insulator and work well when the blinds are correctly fitted. The honeycomb shape still allows natural light to enter the home and this was an important factor as studies have shown that natural light can aid in having good mental health.

The blinds can be fit in all UK homes however, the target audience was primarily the elderly and retired who are most likely to live in ‘old build’ houses where heat loss is a larger issue. The blinds contain a blackout sheet on the inside in case they are fit in a bedroom or other place where privacy or darkness is required at certain times. The blinds are also able to prevent heat from entering in the summer when the residents would want the house to remain cooler. The ultimate benefit to the target audience is their long-term cost saving on heating.

Positive Feedback

The Engineers in Business competition was a great opportunity to emphasise the value of enterprise and communication skills and to challenge our students to develop their ideas and communicate them to industry. The finals evening, with selected groups pitching to industry experts, was a fun event and an excellent opportunity for students to get feedback on their ideas and presentations. We hope to be able to continue to be involved in future years.

Professor Rachel Horn, Director of Learning and Teaching, Faculty of Engineering, University of Sheffield