Mechanical Engineering


UCL Mechanical Engineering second-year team wins at IMechE Design Challenge National Final

16 October 2023

Our second-year team were National Champions at this year’s Design Challenge Final, winning the main challenge and the Poster Competition, Design Review and Design Excellence categories.

IMechE Design Challenge National Final winners 2023

The Design Challenge National Final saw teams of undergraduate engineering students from across the country competing with self-designed and manufactured internal pipe climbers.

The members of the winning team, UCL B, were Tong Zhang, Amber Li, Yuncong Du, John Jiang and Qiang Ye. About their victory, Zhang said, “At UCL Mechanical Engineering, we have a lot of support from staff. We have great facilities, we have all the materials we could ever need, and the university was kind enough to give us money to enter the competition.”

What is the IMechE Design Challenge?

The IMechE Design Challenge is intended to grant undergraduate students the opportunity to demonstrate their innovative design skills outside of the usual academic environment. The Challenge emulates the requirements and limitations of a professional engineer, thus helping set undergraduates up for life working in industry. 

Throughout this year, the teams have competed against their peers in Regional Heats and Regional Finals, aiming to qualify for the National Final. Our UCL B second-year team were very successful at the regional level and went to the National Final representing all of the Greater London region.

What was the Design Challenge this year?

The devices were required to climb inside a piece of vertical transparent tube lifting an increasing load, with the only limitations being costs and sizing. There was a target line for the devices, so the teams were awarded both on how close their devices got to that target line as well as how fast their devices completed the challenge. According to Zhang, the UCL B device was the fastest and hit the bullseye in almost every round, and all with the device only using 60% of their allotted budget.

Zhang also explained the most difficult part of this competition was designing the prototype, due to “the tolerances between the device and the pipe. It’s a really smooth pipe, so if your device is slightly smaller than the internal diameter, it would just fall down. However, if it’s too big, it wouldn’t fit through the rigid pipe at all.”

Beyond the competition, the Design Challenge could also be seen as a networking event. Zhang went on to say: “This competition was sponsored by ANSYS and Red Bull. And Professor Tim Baker MBE was there and lots of other industry guests, so it was a great time to meet them and get the chance to talk to them.”

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The team thanks UCL for their support

Our UCL B team wants to thank Dr Tom Peach, Dr Tom Rushton, Sandeep Harrar and Phil Sessions for providing support throughout and giving technical advice. They are also grateful that UCL integrates the Design Challenge into the first-year degree programmes, as an incredible way to set students up to do well in this challenge and in their careers.

On our team’s victory, Dr Tom Peach, Associate Professor (Teaching) and UCL MechSpace Director said:

I’m so proud of the UCL team winning the second year IMechE Design Challenge—especially as they continue their winning streak from their first-year challenge win last year! Competitions like the Design Challenge are brilliant for pushing our students to refine both their theoretical knowledge and practical engineering skills to design, build and test a winning vehicle from a clean sheet.

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