Mechanical engineering students design inventive pack dog
A solution for parcel deliverers
A steerable trolley with six wheels and lifting legs that can load and unload a package weighing at least 10 kilos and move it across different obstacles. Ideal for parcel deliverers who, partly as a result of the corona crisis, are being asked to deliver more and heavier packages to people’s homes. The WB62 student group has won the Mechanical Engineering Design Contest with its pack dog ‘The Scarab’. The prize was awarded during a live online event with almost 500 participating students.
The winning design has as few drives as possible and largely mechanical and geometric solutions. This means the package remains stable due to two unpowered side wheels on the middle wheel and a small slope on the surface where the package has been placed. Two legs can be lifted simultaneously using a simple hinge system. The advantages: low production costs and fewer potential failure mechanisms.
‘It feels great to excel with a design you've worked so hard on,’ says Max Wildschut, one of the students in the winning group. ‘I learned a great deal by repeatedly analysing our design with the help of simulations. The simulations brought unexpected problems to light. We discovered how important it is to invest a lot of time and energy into this to keep improving the design.’
A modified design project
The contest was the conclusion of a comprehensive first-year design course. This year, analysis and simulation played a bigger role than ever. As a result of the corona crisis, the project had to be unexpectedly adjusted five weeks after it began. Quite a challenge, because how do you suddenly transform a design course, which is very practical and concerns more than 500 students, into online? The assignment remained unchanged: to compete against each other in the design of a ‘pack dog’, only now in the form of a digital simulation. Indeed, the students were no longer allowed to enter the workshop as a result of the corona restrictions.
An exception was made for about ten designs, which were selected based on the first production drawings to be constructed by employees at the faculty workshop. These drawings had to be worked out to perfection, so that a prototype of the design could be produced without any need for intervention. A number of students were allowed to test their prototype on the replicated contest circuit with obstacles, outside behind the workshop. The production in the workshop was filmed. Based on these videos, all first-year Mechanical Engineering students could reflect on their own design work.
The contest day
Not surprisingly, the contest day was different this year too: no physical circuit on the Markt or in Mekelpark, but an online award ceremony, in which the winners were determined on the basis of motion-simulation videos. All student groups had to submit a video of their design simulation to enter the contest. The simulation had to clearly and realistically demonstrate all of the required functions for a good performance of the design.
On 17 June 2020, all videos were viewed and judged by the project instructors (the referees on this day) and by a number of jurors from the business community. For example, Huisman Equipment presented the Constructor Award, Design Solutions the SolidWorks Design Award (prize for the best 3D CAD model), and there was an award from the Science Centre. Students could also vote for each other through the Peer Award. All this happened during an online live event (Teams), in which almost 500 first-year students participated from home.
Theun Baller, dean of the 3mE faculty, presented the first, second and third prizes and complimented the students on their work. ‘Engineers often have to respond to changing circumstances. You have shown that you can do a fantastic job. I’m proud of that, and you can be proud of what you've accomplished.’ He also thanked all instructors for their dedication and adaptability in this unpredictable period.
The Leeghwater student association concluded the online design contest with an encouraging message for the coming exam period (with 2,510 post-its!):