The School of Mechanical Engineering’s annual Open Day, held on October 29 on UKZN’s Howard College campus, was greeted with a sigh of relief by final-year mechanical engineering students.  Representing the culmination of many months of intense design work, the day showcased their Design and Research Projects which form a significant part of their final assessment.

Fourteen different projects, ranging from robots and rockets to solar pumping systems and wastewater treatment plants, were on display for evaluators, sponsors, parents and the general public.  Testing the students’ ability to be design engineers once they graduate, the projects are produced over a nine-month period by groups comprising three or four students.  They are evaluated according to strict criteria set by the Engineering Council of South Africa which include: problem solving, application of scientific and engineering knowledge, engineering design, teamwork and professional and technical communication. 

“Not only do the students interact with one another, but they also develop strong bonds by working overtime to meet their project objectives.  These projects also build confidence in their ability to research and design by using theory and experimentation to verify project objectives and specifications,” said the Head and Deputy Head of Mechanical Engineering, Professors Glen Bright and Lance Roberts. 

The Open Day was deemed a great success, attracting over 200 people who enjoyed interacting with the students and their supervisors.  Prizes, in various categories and determined by external evaluators, were awarded at the end of the day to the worthy recipients.  The prize for the Best Project went to Mr Jonathan Smyth, Mr Daniel Booyens and Mr Serushin Moodley for their Hybrid Rocket Motor Design which forms part of the hybrid rocket development programme initiated by the School’s Aerospace Systems Research Group (ASReG). The Design of a Body of a Sports Car Chassis by Mr Peter Wise, Mr Lungile Mtshali and Mr Gareth Slabbert claimed the Runner-up Prize and Mr Donovan Cawdrey, Mr Shikar Nunkissor and Mr Vishen Mandree’s design and testing of a TRIP steel load cell won the Staff Prize.  The Peer Prize went to Mr Niven Raman, Mr Dhivashen Sewmungal and Ms Fiona Leverone for CAESAR V2.0, their urban search and rescue robot.   

author email :