Warman student design and build competition

Warman students

A talented team of engineering students from Monash University recently proved their impressive design, construction and coding skills, by winning the Warman Student Design and Build Competition.

Joel Kuperholz, Benjamin Steer, Ayden Monsant and Micheal Fong swept the prize pool, winning both the overall prize and the award for best designed device, beating teams from across Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia.

It’s the first time in the 29 year history of the competition that a Monash team has won.

Speaking on behalf of the team, Michael said that they were absolutely stoked to have won the competition and the design award.

“Our lecturer, Dr Scott Wordley, worked incredibly hard. It  was due to his tireless encouragement and assistance that so many of the Monash teams succeeded in completing the course, which was one of the most difficult Warman challenges ever,” he said.

The Warman competition is designed to test students' ability to build real prototype systems, by challenging them to create a device that can complete a predetermined obstacle course. They were judged on speed, weight, accuracy and reliability.

The team of second year mechanical, mechatronics and aerospace engineering students from Monash’s Clayton campus initially won their campus competition with a device that completed the course in 17 seconds. But once they were through to the nationals they decided to completely re-design and rebuild  their device.

They met regularly, working long into the night as they revolutionised their design.

“Our low-tech, hands-on approach to the manufacturing process allowed us to build our rover incrementally, adding modules and functionality as needed and enabling rapid prototyping,” Benjamin said.

“The breakthrough came when we realised we could detach components once they had fulfilled their usefulness and thus save valuable time. We were focused on task-oriented optimisation and saw the NASA space shuttle  and rocket design as the catalyst for simplifying our system,”  Joel added.

The average time taken for devices to complete the course was 24.5 seconds. The Monash Clayton team got a standing ovation when their rover completed the course in just 5 seconds!

The Monash team was one of only two teams to make use of detachable components. The other was Newcastle University who placed second with 6.5 seconds, while third place went to RMIT. A team from Monash University’s Sunway campus also competed, finishing tenth.

Ayden said that taking part in the competition was a terrific experience.

“Through sheer devotion to this project, we managed to excel among the very best competition. This is a momentus achievement which we can look at with pride throughout all of our engineering careers,” he said.

The four agreed that although they were strangers when they first became a team, they had finished the competition as “exceptional friends”.

The team are already planning their next project, entering the Tikkun Olam Makeathon in November to create solutions for people with limitations in their mobility due to disabilities.