NTU engineering students design prototypes to solve real-life problems

A door that can be locked and unlocked just by stepping on a pedal has won the first prize in the Health & Assistive Technologies category.
A door that can be locked and unlocked just by stepping on a pedal has won the first prize in the Health & Assistive Technologies category.PHOTO: NTU
Motorcyclists are able to wear this raincoat quickly due to its unique design and without having to dismount from their motorcycles. This invention won second prize in the Lifestyle category.
Motorcyclists are able to wear this raincoat quickly due to its unique design and without having to dismount from their motorcycles. This invention won second prize in the Lifestyle category.PHOTO: NTU
This 2-in-1 vacuum cleaner and broom, which “sucks” dirt without using electricity, won the third prize in the Design & Innovation category.
This 2-in-1 vacuum cleaner and broom, which “sucks” dirt without using electricity, won the third prize in the Design & Innovation category. PHOTO: NTU
No suspended shelf is too high with this drawer that can be pulled down vertically.
No suspended shelf is too high with this drawer that can be pulled down vertically. PHOTO: NTU

SINGAPORE - Foot pedals that open and shut a toilet door. Quick-to-wear raincoats that motocyclists can put on without dismounting their vehicle.

These were among the winning prototypes featured at the 18th Engineering, Innovation and Design Competition held on Saturday (May 14).

Over 700 second-year engineering students submitted 91 projects for the competition organised by Nanyang Technological University's School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

The students, who are taking the Engineering, Innovation and Design course as part of their curriculum, had to identify real-life problems and apply their engineering knowledge to develop a prototype solution as well as design a business plan to market their product.

This year's competition spanned five categories: lifestyle, design and innovation, energy and environment, health and assistive technologies, and safety and security.

The first prize for health and assistive technologies went to Mr Yap Ming Sheng and his team, who came up with a toilet door that can be opened with foot pedals via a spring mechanism. Toilet users would thus avoid touching the toilet door handle and risk picking up germs.

Mr Yap, 24, said the competition encourages him and his course mates to think out of the box to solve problems.

He said: "It is a team effort and we learn how to put our ideas together to make the prototype work. We believe that our ideas may well be solutions that the society needs."

Other winning entries included a jumpsuit-like raincoat that comes in a special holder, allowing for quicker retrieval so that motorcyclists do not have to get off their vehicle to put on the coat. This won the second prize in the lifestyle category.

A two-in-one vacuum cleaner and broom, which allows one to sweep without a dustpan and vacuum without electricity, also clinched the third prize in the design and innovation category.

Sixteen industry professionals judged the projects based on their feasibility, technological merit, usefulness, commercial viability and "X-factor".

The winning teams won $12,500 in cash prizes, which were sponsored by ST Engineering.

Competition chairman, associate professor Rajesh Piplani, said: "Nothing tests the students' knowledge more than real-life application. The competition also gives students the chance to generate ideas in teams and think about the business aspect of their product.

"These are very relevant experiences for the future."