MME Lecturer Leads Team to Victory at the 2019 UNSW Maker Games

Photo of the Maker Games WinnersDr Edward Obbard, Lecturer in the UNSW School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, and his team of five undergraduate Engineering students have taken the top prize in the 2019 UNSW Maker Games Final Showcase, held 9 August, 2019.

The challenge, submitted by Boral Australia, was to develop a solution to improve accessibility to safety isolation procedures and overcome the risk of electrocution. The team’s design used a sensor between a piece of machinery and the associated power point that can determine if electricity is flowing to that machine. They then designed an app capable of visually identifying the machine and verifying its power status. If it has not already been electronically isolated, the app provides step by step instructions to help a user isolate the machine before commencing maintenance or repairs.

This design won because it “solves a real problem and has the potential to save many injuries and even lives in construction and heavy industry,” according to Dr Obbard. “The solution was developed with a clear awareness of practicalities and the real-world environment of heavy industry.”

The team worked hard to make sure their solution delivered what people actually need by frequently visiting Boral manufacturing sites and consulting with employees to understand the types of solutions they thought would work in their day-to-day plant maintenance tasks on electrical machines.

Team members Saloni Goda, Derek Sun, Dean Hou, Charles Chan, and Neel Iyer have won a trip to China where they will be hosted by UNSW China Office. While there, the team will visit universities and technology start-ups to meet fellow engineers and company founders and see first-hand the pace of innovation and the start-up ecosystem in China.

Over 200 students have participated in the Maker Games since it began in 2017. The program features a 1:1 mentorship between team members and UNSW academics and industry partners.  The Maker Games won the AFR Higher Education Award – Industry Engagement in 2018.

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