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Students set for global challenge at Washington D.C. summit

A team of students from the University of Hull are heading to Washington DC to compete in the finals of an international engineering contest, with the chance to win up to £40,000 to launch their business idea. 

The students qualified for the Global Grand Challenges Summit after winning the Engineering a Better World Student Innovation Competition, organised by the Royal Academy of Engineering. 

Teams taking part in the RAE competition were tasked with developing an innovative engineering solution to a recognised global challenge. The solution had to contribute to sustainable development and reduction of poverty in developing countries. 

The University of Hull team came up with a personalised system for pelvic girdle pain sufferers. 

As part of its innovative design, the belt incorporates TENS pain relief, which can be customised for each patient 

Pelvic girdle pain is estimated to affect one-in-five women in the developed world. In the developing world, approximately half of women suffer from the condition.  

It’s been challenging at times but incredibly rewarding. Not many undergraduates get the chance to pitch to Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering or attend an international summit. Alexandra Hendon, Mechanical and Medical Engineering student, University of Hull

Hull team leader Alexandra Hendon, a final year Mechanical and Medical Engineering student, said:

It’s a great honour to be chosen to represent the UK. None of us knew each other at the start of the competition but we have bonded really well.  

It’s been challenging at times but incredibly rewarding. Not many undergraduates get the chance to pitch to Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering or attend an international summit. We have also had the opportunity to work with some of the brightest young engineers in the country.

Alexandra added:

Even if we don’t win in Washington, we will continue to develop our idea. We are looking to work with companies and hopefully go through clinical trials to bring the product to market. 

The other members of the team are: Hamsa Gamote and Imogen Falconer, both first year Biomedical Engineering students; Georgia Melbourne, a foundation year Mechanical and Medical Engineering student and Ben Flexen, a first year Physics with Astrophysics student. 

Team mentor Dr Louise France, a lecturer in Medical and Mechanical Engineering, said:

It’s a huge achievement to win a competition supported and funded by the RAE. 

The students have started a project from scratch and shown they have the skills to design and develop an idea with huge potential. They have done all their own market research and put a business model together. We are really proud of them all. 

The students have started a project from scratch and shown they have the skills to design and develop an idea with huge potential.  Dr Louise France, Lecturer in Mechanical and Medical Engineering, University of Hull

More than 50 universities from across the UK entered the Engineering a Better World Student Innovation Competition.  

The competition showcase saw 18 teams pitch their ideas to judges at the Royal Academy of Engineering. The five winning teams will compete against teams from the US and China for an investment of 50,000 dollars to fund the development of their idea. 

The Global Grand Challenges Summit aims to find solutions to humanity’s great challenges and inspire the next generation to forge a better future for the world through engineering and interdisciplinary collaboration.   

Hosted by the National Academy of Engineering, the American equivalent of the RAE, the summit is being held at George Washington University from July 18-20. The student competition takes place on July 18, with the winners announced on July 20.   

In preparation for the summit, all five UK teams have taken part in a boot camp and public speaking workshop. The University of Hull team was also mentored by Dr Peter Watson, a lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, and Brian Houston, academic specialist in Mechanical Engineering. 

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