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Annual ACCIS & CoSEM CDT student hackathon

25 November 2021

Thirteen Ph.D. students from the EPSRC CDTs in Advanced Composites for Innovation and Science (ACCIS CDT) and Composites Science, Engineering and Manufacturing (CoSEM CDT) took part in the annual composite hackathon event in November 2021.

Three companies were invited to set a composite challenge that required some blue-sky thinking and the students set to work on researching and brainstorming the problem, evaluating and evolving ideas to come up with solutions. The challenges had to consider industry constraints, such as timescales, costs, manufacturing times, sustainability and energy consumption. 

The three companies supporting the day were Actuation Lab, Fiberlean Technologies and Technical Composite Systems Ltd. The CDT students were split into teams and the companies provided team briefings to kickstart the day and then dropped in partway through to answer any questions that may have arisen. They then returned at the end of the day for the presentations from the students. Each team of students worked solely with one company and then the whole group came together at the end to see what each team had achieved.

First year CDT student, James Griffith, who participated in the Actuation Lab challenge said: “It was an excellent day and a really great opportunity to network with industry, think about the problems they are facing and apply our skillsets to real world applications”.

Dr Michael Dicker, co-founder and CTO of Actuation Lab said: "It's a really interesting experience tapping into the skills of young engineers that have no prior knowledge of the application space your company works in. They have little idea of "the way things are usually done". This resulted in a series of solutions to our challenge that we as a company would never think to come up with ourselves. We now know of some new materials systems and suppliers that we will investigate further to see if they can provide a solution to our problem."

Third year CDT student, Calum McInnes, who worked on the Technical Composites Systems challenge said of the event: “The hackathon was a great opportunity to work together on a real industrial problem. Having the opportunity to check in with the client kept the team focused and on track throughout the day. It was especially enjoyable as we could work in-person which allowed for much more creative thinking.”

Dr Mike Sloan, Managing Director of Technical Composites Systems said: “The Hackathon at Bristol was both enjoyable and Beneficial to Technical Composite Systems. From an industry perspective, the day was an excellent opportunity to engage with the innovation and creativity at Bristol. The students picked up on the problem very quickly and were able to challenge conventional thinking and propose new ideas and solutions. Away from the daily pressure of manufacture, the Hackathon provided a refreshing opportunity to think and collaborate on the real-life challenges that our business faces.”

Matt Bone and Ian Lee both worked on the Fiberlean Technologies challenge, they commented: “It was a really enjoyable day, it's nice to learn about other problems and give it a go trying to solve them. The day was very well catered, and it was nice to have an in-person event! There was a well outlined process for getting the most from the day and a really supportive atmosphere.”

The next event will run in November 2022. If your company would like to participate, please contact the CDT’s Industry Engagement Manager, Keri Montague, for more details.

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