Winners in Cambridge! Trio using design to ‘make the world a better place’

Winners in Cambridge! Trio using design to ‘make the world a better place’

Three sixth-formers won a Cambridge University competition with their design project aimed at protecting construction workers’ hearing.

After being highly commended in the Homerton College Design Programme, Shivam Singh, Yash Patel and Om Patel were invited to a residential weekend, along with more than 200 other highly commended entrants of the design challenge and a parallel essay competition.

The group had spent their first day at the college creating visual aids for their presentations. They and other teams then presented their designs to a room of about 20–30 people.

It was only when they attended the programme’s awards ceremony – held as part of the residential – that they discovered they were the overall winners, with their project receiving the highest marks in the whole competition.

Head of Technology Michael Noonan said: “Huge congratulations go to Shivam, Yash and Om, who demonstrated both creativity and considerable application in developing and presenting their design.”

The design programme’s theme was Building a Sustainable and Healthy World. It was open to Year 12 state school pupils from across the UK.

The QE trio, who are now in Year 13, designed a speaker to reduce noise pollution caused by machinery in the construction industry.

Om explained: “We implemented an active noise-cancelling solution which used principles of superposition and destructive interference to isolate noise to specific areas, keeping workers in the general vicinity safe, as well as reducing overall noise levels.”

In their feedback, the competition judges stated that it was an “excellent project, highly detailed and innovative [that] shows a dedication to making the world a better place”.

Shivam said: “We are proud to have won. The competition was tough: we saw some inspiring innovative projects that the other competitors entered.”

During the weekend, the boys attended an environmental sustainability conference, which included lectures and discussions on topics such as energy generation and how the media presents the climate crisis.

The weekend also featured a formal dinner and opportunities to talk to current Homerton College students and gain insight into life at Cambridge.

After returning to QE, the three reflected on their experiences:

  • Shivam said: “We were able to see other fascinating designs, meet like-minded individuals and discuss our designs and compare our thought processes.”
  • Yash said: “This experience opened our eyes to the environmental impacts engineers must consider when creating products; it’s added one more rigorous step to the design process for my future projects.” It had, he added, been “a fun taster of university life at Cambridge” where it was “great to be surrounded by like-minded individuals”.
  • Om said: “Sustainability is a hot topic of discussion; with our future dependent on the state of the physical world, it is essential that we, as the next-generation engineers, take the necessary steps to reduce our impact on the environment.”