26 July 2010

Mechanically-minded graduates will be embarking upon a 10,000 mile adventure across desert

(l-r) William Day, Phil Turnock and George Dinsdale

Mechanically-minded graduates have embarked upon a 10,000 mile adventure across deserts and mountains in a beaten old banger, as part of a bid to raise cash for charity and put their engineering expertise to the test.

Philip Turnock (22) and George Dinsdale (22), who have recently graduated from the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, along with their friend William Day (22), will be revving-up their engines and setting off on the Mongol Rally, a charity challenge which gets participants to travel a third of the way around the world in a car costing less than £1000 with an engine smaller than 1.2 litres.

Set with the task of using a car unsuitable for the challenge, the team used £500 in funding from the department to buy a £900 Ford Fiesta as their form of transport across uneven, rocky terrain during the four-week long challenge. Because the likelihood of breakdowns is high and the trip is unsupported, it will be down to the graduates to be creative with their mechanical solutions to any hiccups along the way.

The Mongol Rally, which first began six years ago, attracts 400 teams of people and does not require participants to follow a set route. Instead, it only lists starting points in England, Spain or Italy and an end location in the Mongolian capital Ulaan Baatar, giving participants the chance to go all over the world on their way, whether that be as far north as the arctic circle or as far south as Afghanistan.

During their attempt to cross the finish line in Mongolia, the University team have devised a route that will see them cross 16 countries, ranging from the highly westernised to the developing economies. These will include Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Romania and Russia and the graduates hope to capture the highs and lows of their travel on camcorder.

Each team taking part in the rally must raise a minimum of £1000 for their designated charities and the intrepid University team have selected the Mercy Corps, who distribute aid and support to communities living in rural and extremely harsh conditions, preserving a traditional way of life. Upon arrival at the finish line in Mongolia, the car will be auctioned off, with all the proceeds going to struggling local farmers in the region.

Philip Turnock, an MA graduate from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, said: “I’m really excited about the adventure and I can’t think of a better way to cap off four years in Sheffield. Our aim for the rally is to make it there in one piece and enjoy every minute of it along the way!”