Think it. Design it. Make it: Innovation Works! opens for 2016

By Professor Geoffrey Spinks

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

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.

Continue reading

Winners of 2015 Innovation Works! Prototype Competition

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.

IMG_3910The 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.

Runner-up: Low-Cost Two-Phase Expander For Low-Grade Waste Heat Recovery” – (Muhammad) Fahad Alizai

 Highly Commended:

  • Solar Charged Sodium Ion Battery Power Bank” – Zhe Hu, Weijie Li, Qiuran Yang And Weihong Lai
  • Project Tactile” – Daniel Cvetkovski

Click here to read the media release.  For more information about each project and to watch the finalists’ video diaries, visit the Innovation Works! webpage.

Solar used to power home heating and electricity in Innovation Works! prototype

By India Lloyd

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.

Team member Vaughan Patterson, a Masters student in the Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials, said the all-in-one solar and water heater system prototype comprises three main parts.

Continue reading

Innovation Works! finalists create crane powered by artificial muscles

Danial Sangian, who is part of an Innovation Works! finalist team, with their prototype. Photo credit: India Lloyd

Danial Sangian, who is part of an Innovation Works! finalist team, with their prototype. Photo credit: India Lloyd

By India Lloyd

A team of UOW PhD students are hoping that a new educational tool could open primary and high school students up to the possibilities of engineering.

The hydraulic crane, which is powered by artificial muscles, has been developed as part of Innovation Works!, a joint initiative between the Global Challenges Program and the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials (AIIM) that helps students develop prototypes of new products.

The finalists compete over 10 weeks to create the prototype with the winning team to receive $2000 and space in iAccelerate.

Continue reading

Innovation Works! finalists developing cost-friendly electronic circuits

By India Lloyd

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

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.

The project is part of Innovation Works!, a joint initiative between the Global Challenges Program and the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials (AIIM) that helps students develop prototypes of new products.

Continue reading

PhD students using drones to help lifesavers at sea

Innovation Works! finalists Nick Roach and Leo Stevens with the prototype of their drone

Innovation Works! finalists Nick Roach and Leo Stevens with the prototype of their drone

By India Lloyd

Could drones help to save people in distress?

It’s an interesting question and one that could change the way we use this emerging technology.

Two University of Wollongong PhD students are examining whether surf lifesavers could use remote-control drones to rescue inexperienced swimmers at sea without endangering their own lives.

Continue reading