Design, Make, Test
In the UK in the 1970s and early 1980s examples of best practice pedagogic experience included the egg-race type of design and make projects embodied in the student projects run by Ken Wallace at the University of Cambridge and Heinz Wolff at Brunel University. These experiences were widely acclaimed in the media and inspired a generation of students. The technically demanding and
interdisciplinary nature of such projects has, in some cases, pushed them towards the domain of mechatronics degrees. A further challenge to this form of project is the high resource requirements
from staff, to hardware and space. In order to provide a stepping stone between the introductory projects such as bridge or crane building using balsa wood, a group exercise has been introduced that is inspired by the egg-race type leading edge pedagogic practice activities. A project has been developed where students are challenged to build a small hovercraft. Fans and motors are supplied but the students are required to design and build their own hulls. The activity is associated with lectures in sketching, machine elements and fluid mechanics and the fans have been sized requiring careful consideration of the air gap, hull area and mass in order to ensure that the design is compatible with the flow capacity. A further constraint is that the craft must be autonomous and navigate a specified route, with various obstacles. This paper describes the project developed for 160 Year 1 MEng students along with resource requirements and options for scaling and development.