Industrial Cadets Gold Award Workshop

In a two-day residential workshop based at MechSpace, the student hub for those studying Mechanical Engineering at UCL, the six members of our team further developed our project as part of the Industrial Cadets Gold Award. This nationwide competition is designed to help students in the UK reach outside of the curriculum, by working on a real-life engineering problem to produce an innovative solution. For this workshop, it was to produce a solution for a heat exchanger.

Over the span of the first day, we refined our initial idea by considering a multitude of different designs and evaluating each one to come up with the optimal solution. Our idea was to allow the thermal energy from waste hot water, such as showers and dryers, to be recycled during the process of heating clean cold water, lessening the overall amount of energy required. In our original design, we took some inspiration from the bees on the School grounds – the heat exchanger would allow hot and cold water to flow past each other in alternating honeycomb-like cells for the energy transfer to take place. However, this would prove impractical when considering the dimensions of the prototype. In fact, one of the main problems we encountered was the slowing down flow rate of shower water. To combat this, we incorporated a mechanical pressure valve that would lengthen the duration of time the hot and cold water are in contact with each other.

After finalising our design, we agreed on constructing two models – a functional model used to gather data that would prove its efficiency, and a scaled-down, non-functional model to visualise the structure of the inner workings. On the second day, we focused on the latter, since it would be more feasible in the time we had left. The next few hours were spent learning how to use a software called Fusion, sketching and printing the parts for the model and, in succession, researching and refining the theory and calculations behind the functional model. 

Although this project is far from finished, we’re grateful to have gained a sense of how important clear communication, critical thinking and determination are, especially in the working world. We would like to say a huge thank you to the Engineering Development Trust (EDT) team, the UCL staff and student mentors, and most importantly, Mrs Buxton and Mr Woods for this brilliant experience.


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