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Insights into the Group Design Project with 2019 finalists Krystal Yap and Weldon Wong

Published: 9 October 2019
Krystal and Weldon
Krystal and Weldon

The group project runs throughout the final year of study in Southampton and allows students to apply their engineering and science knowledge to an engineering design problem.

The Engineering Design Show is the culmination of a year’s hard work for engineering students, showcasing the best of the Group Design Projects (GDP). Krystal and Weldon give their insights into the GDP and what made their project stand out to the judges, and shortlisted for the Shell Innovation Award.

Project title: Artificial model of a Urinary system: An in-vitro model replicating the physiological urodynamics of the urinary system

This project looked at creating a physical model capable of capturing the complexities of the human urinary system. A model of this kind is not currently available and with an ageing population, urological dysfunctions are becoming more prominent. The output from this project has the potential to be used for bench-testing devices, significantly reducing the time and cost required to bring it to market.

Specialising in biomedical engineering is one of the many choices for mechanical engineering students and a path that both students chose to follow.

“We were the first project to replicate the urinary system, this was the most challenging thing,” said Krystal, when asked about the challenges they faced. Weldon embraced the challenge “Being the first to look at this and invent something new, we’re being pioneers.”

“Nobody expected mechanical engineering students to undertake a project on the urinary system. We thought through many different design concepts and then considered the stakeholders that would utilise each concept. Using this process, we came up with our final design and a contingency design if anything were to go wrong. Our design process was robust and this was key to the success of the project.

The whole process made us step outside of our comfort zone as engineers. We had regular supervisor meet-ups and meetings with subject experts, during which they would challenge the decisions we had made. Our careful evaluation of the different design concepts enabled us to be able to provide strong reasoning behind our decisions,” says Krystal

"Apart from finalising our ideas and design for the main components, initially our integration was not as well thought through as we would like. With our group's dedication to achieve the final goal and extensive communications and discussions, we modified our design and managed to comfortably integrate and combine our individual parts into a fully functional model.

We were speechless when we found out we’d been shortlisted for the Shell Innovation Award, considering the other GDP projects involved. It was a surprise that a bio-medical project was shortlisted as we didn’t think we could compete with those high profile projects.

The competition itself felt like being on an episode of ‘The Apprentice’; we had to deliver a five minute presentation to a room full of Shell engineers who then proceeded to ask very technical questions. We were glad of all the preparation to enable us to answer all questions thoroughly.” said Weldon

Asked to outline some key tips to future students Krystal and Weldon would recommend:

  • plan ahead and follow the plan
  • seek technical help and advice from experts as early as possible
  • don’t leave everything until Semester 2
  • be assertive if no natural leader emerges
  • contribute to the group discussions
  • good communication skills
  • good individual and group organisational skills
  • make contingency plans

Both students said that they found this both a challenging and rewarding project to work on. Most of the proposed projects have a wealth of background research and published articles for students to draw upon; this subject, however did not have this wealth of background research.

“The most challenging part of this project was that the area was really new, there were a lot of uncertainties so we had to do a lot of research. We had the support of our supervisors Dr Dario Carugo and Dr Bram Sengers alongside surgeons and experts which helped to steer us in the right direction” said Krystal.


Engineering Show website

Krystal and Weldon both graduated in July 2019 from University of Southampton with a first-class honours degree in MEng Mechanical Engineering specialising in Biomedical Engineering. Both students started their degree at the University of Southampton Malaysia and naturally transitioned to complete their final two years of study at the campus in Southampton

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