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Nottingham Trent University student team win Engineering for People Design Challenge

A group of BSc (Hons) Product Design students have taken first place in the Engineers Without Borders UK Engineering for People Design Challenge 2020/2021, as well as winning the Grand Prize.

The competition, now in its 11th year, allows students to propose solutions to be applied to real life problems affecting people on a global scale, encouraging them to think about the social, economic and environmental impact of their engineering.

This year’s challenge focused on the Lobitos and Piedritas communities in Peru, tasking students to consider sustainable waste management, energy, food and water supply, digital communications, and transport infrastructure.

Responding to this brief, the NTU team comprising of BSc (Hons) Product Design students Devishi Kapoor, Will Seekins, Ollie Dennison and Mohamed Kobattay, produced The Caja Fria fridge and filter system.

The Caja Fria is a mini fridge made primarily from terracotta and relies on the principle of evaporation to provide cooling to the contents of its interior. In Lobitos and Piedritas there is only a single potable water pipe, and this only provides clean water for 2-3 hours a day. With no other sources of clean water, this potable water pipe is used for everything. The Caja Fria fridge is designed to use glacial water runoff, negating the requirement to fill it from the pipe. Additionally, the water can be withdrawn and cleaned for other uses through its filter system.

Looking to make their design as sustainable as possible, the team researched the use of terracotta and its cooling properties, which have been used in African and Indian cultures for centuries.

Emma Crichton, Head of Engineering at Engineers Without Borders UK said: “This project made excellent use of existing resources and community knowledge to deliver a deceptively simple yet incredibly effective design that could be easily implemented.”

Students from the winning team said: “We were pleasantly surprised when we found out we won the people’s prize, but then to be told we’d won the whole Grand Prize too was an ecstatic moment!”

“The Engineering Without Borders Competition gave us exposure to a new platform. A platform where we could boost our innovations and spur invention of new or better products. As university students this was a relatively newer and more engaging experience for us as we competed against 1339 teams, and our design was reviewed by a panel 234 reviewers and 22 judges from 32 countries.”

The team will receive a £500 educational bursary for the Peoples’ Prize Award and will also receive the Grand Prize of a £2,000 educational bursary.

Find out more about the competition here.