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Showcase 2023 Student Spotlight: Joshua Dennis

Student Spotlight featuring BSc (Hons) Product Design student, Joshua Dennis and his project, GREG NextGen.

Render of a robot

The project

The project was designed and constructed as a life sized humanoid robot for education. The unit is fully functional from the waist up, and is designed for lessons and presentations in schools. The unit is also modular, allowing for easy customisability, allowing school pupils to design their own addons to the product. For more advance students, there is a basic AI element to the product, including machine vision technology allowing for basic human-robot interaction. The aim has been to bring technology that usually would cost tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds into schools, allowing young people to come face to face with machines that you usually see only in movies.

The inspiration behind the project

Joshua has been been interested in robotics since he was really young, starting off with Lego Mindstorms. He has constructed over a dozen robots over the years, including some flying robots, and his first full size humanoid robot when he was nineteen. He feels it is important to inspire young people to get into STEM subjects, including robotics, and he hopes this product could inspire the next generation.

Whilst the project has been challenging at times, particularly with the technical aspects, I have enjoyed the constant trial and error I have undertaken for many months to get to the point I am at. The design has constantly been evolving, and I want to thank all those who have helped me get to this point.
Render of a robot waving

Being part of NTU

Whilst Joshua has not had the typical university experience, due to the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, he took whatever opportunity he could to get in the workshop and develop my practical skills. For his placement year he worked as a Technical Assistant in the metal workshop, and thanks to the help of the technical team his metal working and woodwork skills have developed to the point he was able to complete this project. As well as these practical skills, he has developed his CAD (Computer Aided Design) skills, as well as his sketching and model making skills.

During his placement year he worked as a Technical Assistant in the metal workshop. Whilst there, he worked with dozens of students on their final year projects, as well as many first and second year students, across all three Product Design Courses. Towards the end of May 2022, there was the annual final year Degree Show, where members of the public, including student’s parents, could come and see all the work that had taken place. When someone works on something everyday, they may not quite realise just how amazing it is. But seeing the excitement and amazement in the faces of so many people, looking at products and pieces of furniture that had been designed and made in house, is always an incredible moment. This has made Joshua very excited for his degree show coming up in just a few months.

Closing remarks

Find what you are passionate about, and work on project based around those passions. For Joshua it was electronics and robotics, so where possible he used those skills to answer briefs. Not every brief you get assigned will excite you, but work out what about those briefs are exciting. Use your time to develop your skills, whether that is sketching, model making, CAD or workshop, and have fun whilst doing it!

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