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    World Engineering Day

    4 March 2020

    While yesterday was all about those inspired by wildlife, today celebrates another Harper Adams subject area! World Engineering Day celebrates the work of engineers in aiming and developing goals around water, energy and infrastructure sustainability in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In celebration of engineers, we sought out some of the different projects happening across campus to highlight the amazing work our staff and students are getting up to.

    The Secret Spud Scanner

    You may have heard on BBC Radio 4 yesterday morning about a potato scanner project, which is seeing research undertaken by Harper Adams and B-Hive Innovations Ltd.

    Overseen by Dr Richard Green, Principal Lecturer in Engineering, the project aims to provide a solution to improving size distribution of potatoes at harvest through radar scanning of growing tubers. The ground-penetrating radar can detect the size of the tubers underground to show the possible potential of the plants. By scanning individual plants, a field distribution map could be created, showing exactly which plants may need more management to grow a more uniformly-sized yield.

    Preliminary testing has taken place in three fields of potatoes in Lincolnshire and now indoor testing of the radar equipment is underway in our Soil Hall. The practical work is being undertaken by Matthew Lewis, visiting researcher from B-Hive Innovations Ltd.

    The Mechatronics Robot Challenge

    The Soil Hall is a great facility that not only provides space for testing, but also for competitions.

    The Mechatronics Robot Challenge is an annual event where students put their learning to the test. Our engineering students gathered together to test out their robotics creations, seeing if their programming was up to scratch against a small assault course.

    Having to start, stop and navigate their robots around the course, students were challenged not to manually move their robots in an effort to score the most points. While some robots tackled this without issue, others found it more of a challenge.

    Overall, after 56 laps of the course, the students found valuable learning from all of the fun. By putting their work to the test, they discovered the initial problems which can be rectified in their future work. You can check out some photos below!

    Engineering Placement Year

    Our students can also find engineering experience outside of campus too. With five of our students currently working at Rail-Ability Ltd in Stafford, they are putting their skills to the test within a business specialising in the modification and manufacture of bespoke cutting edge plant, machinery and equipment.

    Ian Harrison, HR Manager, spoke about why Rail-Ability value Harper Adams students, saying: "Engineers from Harper Adams University form the backbone of the Rail-Ability Development Engineering and Mechanical Design Engineering teams.

    "The reason for this is first, the compatibility of all the Harper Adams University engineering degrees to the product range of Rail-Ability Limited. Second, the quality of Harper Adams engineering degrees, due to the type of teaching methods and structure of the courses produces very high calibre engineers.

    "Harper engineers outperform all other candidates from every other university for placement and graduate roles."

    So far the students have been working across a variety of projects and are throughly enjoying their placement year. One of the students, Benedict Churchhouse is working as a design engineer, and explained his role, saying: "Most of my work is spent on solidworks modelling and making drawings.

    "Our work is given to us by the lead design manager but we are all quite self led in terms of prioritisation, giving us the chance to manage our own workload how we see fit.

    "I feel like I've learnt so many skills in just two months and look forward to learning more."

    Tell us about your placement experience here.

    Driverless Vehicles

    Harper Adams are also paving the way to the future of engineering through a collaborative project into driverless vehicles!

    Headed up by Parmjit Chima, Head of Department of Engineering, with Sam Wane, Senior Lecturer in Engineering and three researchers; Megan Platt, Tom Howes and Matthew Butler, the team are working on developing prototype systems for the safe operation of driverless electronically-connected convoys of closely-spaced vehicles. The aim is to reduce city congestion and vehicle emissions through more innovative technologies to improve road transport.

    The autonomous cars will travel closely together, at distances as close as 20cm, to reduce congestion and reduce fuel use through minimised drag.

    Currently, the research project aims to investigate, develop and evaluate systems, including operational safety. Through processing data and developing computer algorithms, the team aim to design vehicle-to-vehicle communcation and automated decision making. They are hoping this may be applied to groups of agricultural vehicles and drones in the future.

    For more about our engineering courses, check out the course area page of our website.

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