University of Hull

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Global Challenge is a module dedicated to all our 2nd year engineering students. This year 297 students created 50 interdisciplinary groups of engineers to solve current real-world problems. This year’s challenge was aligned to the university’s environment and energy focus, with the module focused upon researching innovation and solutions in plastics.

Entrepreneurship Manager, Paula Gouldthorpe said, "Tthe Engineers in Business competition crucially helped them as our future engineers to recognise the importance of enterprise, entrepreneurial thinking and business acumen - encouraging them to look beyond their technical capabilities. For the university, the prize fund built upon and strengthened the careers and entrepreneurship links with our Science and Engineering Faculty, and our students were equipped with knowledge and skills to create innovative solutions for social, economic and environmental change”.
Winner: Natural Fibre Plastics (Hemp) - £1,500 Engineers in Business Prize

Natural Fibre Plastics won first-prize because of the circular economy approach to their idea. Their joint research into the issues of existing plastics was presented well as a team and they challenged ideas and perceptions about the material. They explored the alternative material of Hemp and the wider benefits to the UK environment and economy. Assessing the bigger picture around legislation, farming, and supply-chain, growth in market demand, marketing, product diversification and potential as a new export opportunity in light of potential Brexit.
Second Place Prize Winner: Environet - £800 Engineers in Business Prize

The Environet team took forward two parts to their idea, the first explored existing best practice in removing plastics and debris from surface water drains. Taking an existing idea from Australia to make it fit for purpose to the UK market. The team took its idea to the planning stages, exploring costs, potential routes to market and identifying potential business partners and funding streams.

As part of their project they identified an opportunity to use their idea to also make a difference in the local community – raising awareness of recycling within local schools. The group made contact with Hull Children’s University and went into local schools to deliver their own workshops to inspire the next generation of engineers.
Third Place Prize Winner: Logistics Training & Consutlancy Business - £350 Engineers in Business Prize

The team created a consultancy business idea targeting retail and supermarkets to identify solutions and supply-chains to reduce their single plastic use and wider packaging. Whilst their idea did not include a specific technical solution or design, they delivered a presentation and idea which highlighted the wider career opportunities and the transferrable skills and knowledge they are gaining as engineers. The team applied their own branding and delivered in an engaging style.
Fourth Place Prize Winner : Micro Filtration technology / Seabin - £350 Engineers in Business Prize

The team explored existing seabin approaches for the collection of plastics from seas, canals and small rivers. They proposed installing the technology locally within the River Hull. Whilst the technology was not a new innovation the joint research and strong multidisciplinary team approach to tackling the project really shined through in their presentation delivery.

Positive Feedback

Taking part in the EIBC competition gave the work more purpose as the students felt (and expressed) that they were working towards a more significant goal and a target which they could achieve. The added bonus of a cash prize and the possibility of going onto the national competition were additional incentives for the students with their group work. When a student leaves university, they will come across many situations in both their day-to-day life and in the workplace where they are in a competitive situation. Therefore, competitions not only help them to achieve, but can also prepare them to achieve within their chosen career paths”. The competition also provided additional leverage, opportunity and encouragement to have cross-disciplinary team working, providing real, practical, experiential learning of team working for the students.

David Sowden, Lecturer, Engineering - Global Challenge Module