A glimpse at how our world will be shaped: Designers and architects of future exhibit work in student show

Issue date: 27 May 2016

FET degree show

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An innovative boat which cleverly doubles up as a car roof box and a set of beautifully-crafted plans for the regeneration of a once-booming Dutch city are among the student projects set to go on display in an annual showcase of final year work.

Up to 400 students from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) will exhibit the results of their endeavours over the last nine months to proud parents, prospective employers and members of the public at the Environment and Technology Degree Show.

Engineers, architects, computer programmers and product designers of the future who have been studying and developing their skills at UWE Bristol will be on hand to talk 1,000-plus visitors through work they have produced over the course of the past academic year. Guests can expect to be inspired by ingenious new products, engaging displays and ground-breaking technology.

In previous years, projects on show have included a skin cancer detection kit for older men, a fast-cooling iron designed to improve child safety, a facemask that allows scuba divers to communicate via sound waves and an intelligent kettle that learns its user's habits to save water.

This year will see equally exciting projects go on display. Product Design student Joshua Leddra will unveil Top Deck, a dinghy which can be transformed into a car roof top box for families seeking an affordable and practical way to get into boating. James Gray, an Architecture student, will present his stunning masterplan for the regeneration of Delft, a Dutch city in commercial decline since its heyday as an internationally-recognised trading hub 400 years ago.

The degree show is staged every year as a celebration of the efforts of students in four UWE Bristol departments: Architecture and the Built Environment; Computer Science and Creative Technologies; Engineering Design and Mathematics; and Geography and Environmental Management.

At the university's Frenchay campus, R-Block will be transformed from teaching spaces into an event venue filled with enthusiastic students and proud relatives for the show between 5.30pm and 9pm on Thursday 2 June 2016.

The event's organiser Dr John Lanham, Associate Dean for Partnerships at UWE Bristol, said: “The annual Environment and Technology Degree Show is a highlight of the calendar for me. They showcase the creativity and output of students and give visitors a chance to see how our world will be shaped and made. We have the future engineers, architects, urban planners and computer specialists here - at the show they are presenting their vision for the future and delivering real-world solutions.

“The energy and vibrancy at the Degree Shows is something you want to bottle on the night and go back to later to enjoy. It's great to see the how these students have progressed and matured - the transition from fresher to confident, knowledgeable young professional at the start of a career is always an exciting change to see. The work they are sharing demonstrates their capabilities to date and future potential.”

The event is free to attend and open to the general public. Registration can be completed here.

Joshua Leddra, BSc (Hons) Product Design

Joshua has designed a family-friendly motorised dinghy which can be transformed into a car roof box.

His affordable vessel, called Top Deck, can be disassembled into components to create a roof box capable of storing luggage for journeys to the coast and other waterways. On arrival at the seaside or riverbank, the craft can be easily reconstructed and launched onto the water.

Made from PVC – an industry standard material for inflatable boats – the vessel can seat five adults and is also safe for children. It has an outboard motor which clamps onto the back.

For the degree show, Joshua has created a scale model of his boat with parts produced on a 3D printer and spray painted.

Explaining the inspiration behind his idea, Joshua said: “As a family, we always holidayed on the Cornish coast and would envy people out on the water on boats. I used to think 'How could we get out there?' There are not that many products out there – apart from kayaks – the average family can buy.

“I wanted to create an affordable boat for families but realised that transporting one to a family holiday can be difficult, because of the size. A family might already have a top box on their car and a dog in the boot so finding room for a boat can be extremely challenging.

“Buying a trailer is expensive and you also need a tow bar fitted and towing experience, which all creates added complexity you don't need. You could rent a boat but that's expensive and you are limited as to where you can go. Top Deck is the solution based around the family.”

Tom Ward, MSc Mechanical Engineering

As principal of UWE's Formula Student team, Tom will be exhibiting the car designed and built by students to compete in this year's race at Silverstone. It will be the second year Tom has taken part in Formula Student, an annual student engineering competition which sees undergraduates from across Europe design, build, test, and race small-scale formula-style racing cars.

Tom and fellow members of the 40-strong team will show off the car's freshly-welded rolling chassis which it is hoped will help propel them to glory in the race in July. This year's vehicle – which will be finalised and tested throughout June - will have top speed of 70mph and is expected to be able to achieve 0-60mph in just 3.5 seconds.

For his final year project, Tom has created a planetary gearbox and optimisation tool which will help future engineering students transform the UWE car from a petrol-driven model to a version powered by electric. An increasing number of vehicles competing in the competition are electric – 30 out of the 120 registered vehicles were electric in 2016 – and UWE is expected to make the transition in 2018.

The optimisation tool, created on an Excel spreadsheet linked to Visual Basic code, will aid future students by calculating the required dimensions for drivetrain components based on space constraints.

Of seeing the UWE car competing at Silverstone last year, Tom said: “It was brilliant. We all had a moment of pride when it hit the floor – the few days before the race were very rushed so I was very happy to see it sitting on its wheels.

“We finished 70th or so but it's difficult because some of the big German teams have a budget of £2 million, whereas we have £16,000. We've yet to complete the event without a breakdown or some other issue so hopefully this will be the first year that happens!”

James Gray, BSc (Hons) Architecture

For their final year project, Architecture students were challenged to draw up a masterplan for a large parcel of land ripe for redevelopment in the Dutch city of Delft.

James was inspired by the city's rich history as a world-renowned trading hub hundreds of years ago. His plan - covering an area equivalent to UWE Bristol's Frenchay campus - features housing, shops, markets and a bridge connecting the development to the rest of the city. The centrepiece is a cultural forum, with a debating chamber at its core. The chamber seeks to revive the Netherlands' rich history of sanctuary, where the powerhouses of trade, the arts, and sciences would once congregate.

He said: “I've always liked the idea of exchange and quid pro quo, and when we visited Delft on a university trip we saw an enormous market square hosting a small and humble market. I could imagine 400 years ago it would have been packed and that gave me my idea to regenerate the city. Basing it around trade was the only real option for me because it was the only thing abundantly obvious in terms of developing a narrative.

“When creating a regenerative masterplan of such a large scale, you are always focusing on the experience of the person within it. I was working at a large city scale but also considering finer details such as the texture underfoot, the feel of public seating and the light through the trees. All these details combined help to create an evocative masterplan, brimming with character substance.

“The feedback to my masterplan was excellent and that can be quite emotional when you hear it. It's not like a maths exam – you put your heart and soul into it and ultimately it's someone's opinion as to whether it's good or not because you are presenting something which is wholly subjective. Assessors are looking at what the buildings are representing – in terms of what atmosphere they are evoking and sense of feeling they give off – not just what they look like.”

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