Congratulations to the 2017 UNSW Canberra Warman Competition Winners – Project THIRTY


The 30th Annual Warman Design and Build Competition at UNSW Canberra has just concluded and the inhabitants of Gondwanna can again be thankful for the ingenuity of the students who have addressed the most recent of their problems.  Gondwana is a small planet orbiting a sun on the outer fringes of our Galaxy and the sun's rays are weak.  Fortunately there is a plentiful supply of concentrated uranium ore in the form of hard crystals mixed with rocks.  The concentration is sufficiently high to pose radiation risks to miners, so an autonomous system was required for the handling of the ore and waste material. The challenge this year was to design, build and test a “proof of concept” autonomous system to collect, transport, sort and deliver the ore and waste to the designated receival bins.  In the context of the competition, the ore was modelled by yellow golf balls and the waste by squash and racquet balls. An L-shaped track was defined using two sheets of MDF.

“The competition is essentially about learning mechanical and electronic design from doing,” says Dr. Warren Smith. While running the UNSW Canberra class engaged in the project, he is also a National Coordinator of the Warman Design and Build Competition. “Each year we present a different mythical engineering scenario, which pushes the students to go beyond the theory they learn in the classroom and turn their ideas into reality.”

Held on the afternoon of 02 June in the Adams Auditorium Foyer, the competition was between 12 teams of 2nd year mechanical and aeronautical engineering students.  It was well attended by students, staff and visitors with the winning team, “Victorious Secret”, posting a score of 114 from a theoretical maximum of 150.  The team comprised Leigh Gray, Ryan McElroy, Tyler Morgan, Steven Quirk and Warren Spires.  They named their system “Miranda”.  Built on a carbon fibre chassis, and with significant flair, it comprised a vibrating hopper and sorting mechanism delivering the balls to respective chutes, one of which was raised to the required height using a pneumatically-powered telescopic column.  Independently driven wheels, with ball castors to aid pivoting, ran the device through a precise predefined course on the track using Arduino based control.  Miranda, with many of its competitors, could be considered both a functional artefact and a work of art!

For the class involved in the project, there was by reflection, much learning that took place.  All can be proud of their achievements.