While hiking in the mountains of my home country in Norway, and taking in the nature with aerial photography, I ran into a big problem. All of my gadgets started “dying” on me because the batteries were running low – I needed some sort of way to generate power/electricity and quickly!
I had enrolled in a Mechatronic Engineering degree, so I was really looking forward to making all kinds of electrical circuits and to learn more about how the technology we surround ourselves with on a daily basis, actually works. My classes and lectures allowed me to gain theoretical knowledge, but entering the InnovationWorks! competition enabled me to also start developing my practical skills over a number of weeks in the lab with specialist advice. It allowed me the perfect platform to start solving the problem I had back home while hiking the mountains. Continue reading →
The team who created an educational tool powered by artificial muscles, which was one of two projects to take out the first Innovation Works! in 2014. Photo credit: Paul Jones
Like many other academics, I spend a lot of time thinking about things – trying to come up with solutions to the various problems we are interested in.
In my case, I’m interested in developing new technologies from advanced materials and my special interest is in artificial muscle materials for robotics and medical devices.
We’ve had a lot of success in improving the performance of the artificial muscles.
Our latest collaborative work has shown that we can convert ordinary polymer fibres (like nylon fishing line) into high performance artificial muscles that have a power-to-weight ratio of a jet engine. The real beauty of these materials, however, is their simplicity and accessibility.
Innovation Works! is a Prototype Competition run each year to help UOW students turn their ideas into reality. This project is a collaboration with UOW’s Australian Institute for Innovative Materials and provides students the opportunity to win a 10-week program to assist them to design and build a new product concept.
During the competition period students had access to space, facilities such as 3D printing, training and assistance to help them develop a prototype.
The competition concluded with a public demonstration held on 20th August followed by a presentation given to a panel of four UOW judges. Teams were judged against the criteria of how well their prototype performed; originality; and their plans for taking their ideas forward.
The judging panel were very impressed by all finalists, but have awarded First Prize to: “Unmanned aircraft system as a search and rescue tool” by Nathan Tarlinton and Sally Reynolds.
Congratulations to the winning team (pictured right), who receive $500 each in prize money and a place in UOW Pitch to further develop their prototype.
The judges also commended the other finalists for their endeavours.
An all-in-one solar and water heater system could change the way we use electricity inside the home.
The project, from a team of UOW students as part of the Innovation Works! competition, aims to harness the power of solar heat to generate electricity and warm water at the same time, a novel concept that is both environmentally friendly and beneficial to our wallets.
PhD student Joseph Giorgio, who is part of an Innovation Works! finalist team working on new electronic circuits. Photo credit: ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science
Electronic tags are everywhere in modern life. From the supermarket, to our cars and offices, and even our pets, electronic tags are used to store and access information, track movements of goods, and even allow contactless payment.
But the technology is expensive and only able to be used on a small range of materials. Until now.
A team of UOW students is investigating how to embed electronic circuits, or RFID (radio-frequency identification), into cheaper materials, such as paper and cling wrap.