Imperial College London

Young inventors get hands-on experience in Imperial's Maker Challenge

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Two students wearing safety goggles sanding a wooden object in the workshop

Young people are learning new skills and techniques to turn their innovative ideas into reality in Imperial College London's Maker Challenge.

The challenge, run through the Reach Out Makerspace at The Invention Rooms, allows students from local schools to develop their own prototypes and gadgets.

As part of the Maker Challenge programme, students take part in weekly sessions where they learn to use making tools with the support of staff and students from the College. Through these sessions they gain a range of skills from practical hands-on use of equipment to product development, team-building, presentation and communication skills.

Local school pupils discussing a making technique in the classroomParticipants get to try out different skills each week, including computer aided design, laser cutting, 3D printing, electronics and programming. They then put these new skills to use as they work on their own projects in groups.

Innovative ideas to come from the programme so far include a drone that delivers emergency supplies, trainers that play music and generate energy, and adaptations for hearing aids to make them look more attractive for young children.

A bag to prevent back pain

Rona Williams (pictured in main image) from Bacon’s College in south London is designing a bag that helps prevent back pain. The bag measures the weight of its contents, and if it’s deemed too heavy, it won’t zip up.

She said: “I think now, being here, I know that I really enjoy product design and I want to do it in the future. 

“The programme has helped me understand the process of designing and problem-solving – and shown me how I can help the world.”

A speaker that cools your drinks

Design technology students Daniel Eisho and Ronnie Shleemon are making a portable speaker with a platform on top that can cool drinks.

They designed it for use at parties or gatherings, or outside on warm days. Daniel said: “Usually when you’re out and about with friends there’s already the element of sound with the speaker, but normally someone would have a drink and maybe the day gets hot and your drink becomes warm. It’s nice to have that extra function with the speaker, and it’s really no extra weight to add this functionality.”

A student using a bandsaw to cut a sheet of thin wood, with a student mentor watching

Ronnie (pictured above) added: “We’re also thinking of putting in some USBs to charge your phone, or some charging stations.”

Daniel said: “Currently we’re using a programme called Fusion 360 to design the product, which is a 3D modelling and design programme which I’ve found most fascinating so far. I’m already familiar with practical work, so it will be interesting for me to walk away with much more computer skills and modelling.”

White City Campus

The Invention Rooms, a dedicated innovation space for the local community, is located at Imperial’s new White City Campus, which will also house research facilities, space for businesses and accommodation for postgraduate students. The Campus will bring members of the local community together with Imperial’s academics, students, alumni and partners to test out creative ideas, build real prototypes and share in the fun of making and discovery.

The Invention Rooms and Reach Out Makerspace programmes are supported by The Mohn Westlake Foundation, The Berkeley Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Elsevier Foundation and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).


Thomas Angus [Photographer]

Thomas Angus [Photographer]
Communications Division

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Jennie Rawling

Jennie Rawling
Communications and Public Affairs

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Strategy-educational-experience, White-City-Campus, Outreach, White-City-Community-Engagement
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