Imperial College London

Imperial Vulcan team talk about their experience in the IMechE Design Challenge


Top view of the vehicle

After attending the Greater London regional final of the challenge on June 14th, the Imperial team give an account of their experience.

In November 2020, second year students Yaashiene Pukazhendi, Naa Ayorkor Harding and Talia Reich, began working on their entry for the IMechE Design Challenge, supervised by Alexis Ihracska. Yaashiene had the idea to participate in this challenge and founded the team because she felt a need to inspire other engineering students to challenge themselves, even if they did not feel confident in their skills.

The results were worthwhile: “It was an exciting challenge - a chance to learn a new coding language, Arduino, an opportunity to design and build a moving device from scratch, and a test of how creative we could be knowing we would have zero access to workshop facilities/services even via a technician”, says Naa Ayorkor.

The team shared how the competition encouraged them to explore new concepts, with Talia adding that before, she did not know much about Arduino, but by the end of the competition, she was the main Arduino expert in the group, writing the code that helped the vehicle implement its functions.

The vehicle at the Greater London regional final
The vehicle at the Greater London regional final

Later on in the year, the team expanded with the addition of Caroline Schoeyer who suggested a simple but highly effective solution for a need for axial constraints on the drive axle of their vehicle, without needing any workshop or technical facilities and services: rubber bands.

COVID restrictions made it difficult to get physical assembly and testing done on the vehicle, but somehow, the team managed to build, test, and modify the design in the week before the regional final. And despite having lost at the regional final, the experience they had was cause for celebration enough. Yaashiene adds that, “As Imperial’s pioneer team for the IMechE design challenge, we hope to send more teams in the coming years.”

 “We would like to say a huge thank you to Alexis Balazs Ihracska, our supervisor, and also to the IMechE for providing this platform for future engineers to challenge themselves.”


Nadia Barbu

Nadia Barbu
Department of Mechanical Engineering

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