Why did you enter the event?

Whilst studying EEE at University, it is not very often you get to apply some of the knowledge gained to design and manufacture a physical product. By participating in the Hackathon, our team was given a blank canvas in terms of what the final product could be, meaning we had to design and plan how the mechanical, electrical and software elements were going to mesh together. I have always been interested in hobby electronics, such as designing my own projects and taking part in university engineering competitions. The Siemens challenge allowed me to apply this knowledge in a fast-paced and enjoyable environment.

How did you hear about it/why did it appeal to you?Ben Griffiths

I first heard about the event from a course mate who participated in the challenge the year before, and after seeing the end results on display in the iForge and hearing how enjoyable it was, I decided to apply. It appealed me for several reasons, one of which being able to collaboratively design the product from scratch and continuously iterating the design in the weeks coming up to the event to incorporate ideas from all the team members.

Do you think its complements your degree and if so why?

I think this challenge is an asset to my degree as a way of learning and developing soft skills such as team communication, time management and commitment, whilst exercising the knowledge that I have gained in my studies in a practical way.

What could you apply from your degree to the event?

I believe that the experience I gained working in multidisciplinary teams to execute projects in short time frames such as in the Global Engineering Challenge had an impact on how quickly the team was able to bond and develop a plan for the weekend. I could also apply my knowledge of the C programming language to program the Arduino used to control the electromechanical elements of the project.

Describe briefly the objective of the Hackathon, duration, how you were split into teams, what your role was in the team, any challenges you had to overcome working in a team and how you overcame these/what your team made and the overall result.

The idea of the 3-day long event was to design and develop a way to visualise data about The Diamond that is both creative and effective. Each team was given a file that contained data about The Diamond building such as noise, temperature and humidity, which we were tasked to display using a comprehensive kit of electronic components and materials. Once the challenge began, the team autonomously split into 4 teams, consisting of an electrical, mechanical, software and building team.
Despite studying Electrical Engineering, I was part of the Mechanical team, which was responsible for designing and manufacturing the many parts of the project such as laser cutting, drilling and gluing the provided material. In the week coming up to the event, using ideas from the rest of the team, I developed a CAD model of the proposed design, so that we at least had a solid starting point on the day. This allowed us to have certain parts laser cut fairly soon into the weekend and verify that the ideas we came up with in the CAD model would actually work in real life. The only challenge we had to overcome as team was early into the first day of the challenge, where we were deciding on the final form of a key element of the project, namely the elevator system that was responsible for autonomously recycling marbles from the bottom of the marble run back to the top. After some discussion and design changes, we managed to make some compromises and found a way to blend both ideas together, which actually ended up working perfectly and was critical to the project’s basic functionality.
Unfortunately, we didn’t win the event, which probably was not helped by the fact that almost half of the electronics died in the final minutes of the competition, but I still had a fantastic weekend.

Would you recommend other students to enter the Hackathon next year and why?

The whole weekend was certainly tough, especially when things start going wrong and the lack of sleep starts to have an effect on everyone’s moral and capabilities. But the event is very enjoyable, gives you the chance to network with managers and employees from the company and ask many questions about the student placements they offer. I would recommend the event to anyone who loves bringing ideas to life, wants the chance to apply the knowledge they have in a physical setting and who wants to potentially impress Siemens for the chance to gain a student placement.

The event is very enjoyable, gives you the chance to network with managers and employees from the company.  I would recommend the event to anyone who loves bringing ideas to life, wants the chance to apply the knowledge they have in a physical setting and who wants to potentially impress Siemens for the chance to gain a student placement. 

ben griffiths - pictured