Each year RMIT engineering students take part in the Asia-Pacific Warman Design and Build Competition organised by Engineers Australia.
The competition was established in 1988 with the support of prominent Australian engineer, Charles Warman and gives students an opportunity to think creatively while exercising engineering design and construction skills.
Second year students in RMIT’s Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) complete a core study subject, Mechatronics Principles where they must demonstrate their skills in mechanical design, electronics and embedded programming.
Working in teams, they compete against each other for a chance to represent RMIT at the national finals at Australia Technology Park in Sydney.
The challenge itself is to build a prototype mechanical system – such as an autonomous device that can handle a payload over a narrow crevice or through a wall – for a fictional dilemma with applications for the ‘real world’.
In 2015 RMIT beat universities from Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia with their entry, the Shovel Bot Mach 1, an autonomous robot with a mechanical scoop.
Dr Reza Hoseinnezhad, senior lecturer, School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing, said the experience is a great opportunity for students to test their teamwork, planning, leadership and communications skills.
“Students need to be innovative, team players and capable of undertaking in-depth research to come up with new ideas for parts and subsystems that can be implemented easily,” Dr Hoseinnezhad said.
“More specifically, they should be knowledgeable about sensors and small DC motors, movement and actuation mechanisms, and last but not least, programming of embedded processors.”
The competition gives participants the opportunity to put their design abilities to the test and to put into practice the extensive range of skills needed to become a professional engineer.
According to Dr Hoseinnezhad, there are many job options for people with electronic and mechanical design skills.
“Graduates can be employed as electronic design engineers, mechanical design engineers, control system engineers and robotics engineers,” he said.
“Companies involved in manufacturing of automated or automatic devices as well as industries looking to automate their processes are always in need of capable mechatronics graduates.”