8 January 2019

Up for a challenge? University of Sheffield mechanical engineering students invited to enter IMechE Design Challenge 2019

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) is once again giving engineering students across the country the opportunity to flex their design manufacturing muscles as part of the annual Design Challenge competition.

Members of the iMechE Design Challenge team holding a trophy and certificate

What is it?

An estimated 2000 engineering undergraduates from across the UK take part in the annual IMechE Design Challenge, a competition that aims to give engineering students a taste of real-world engineering.


We are consistently rethinking ways in which we can support the academic and skills development of young undergraduates: challenging them to be more creative, bolder and better prepared for the world of work.

Sandra Balthazaar

Education Projects Manager, IMechE


Open to teams of up to five members, the Challenge is for students in their first or second year of engineering study. As part of the competition, they are tasked with designing, building, testing and presenting a mechanical device based on a set technical specification.

After entering, qualifying teams have the chance to take part in regional competitions, with winners going through to a national final held at IMechE headquarters in London.

Helping future engineers to develop is something the IMechE is committed to supporting and what the Design Challenge is all about.

“Engineers will be called upon to address the complex societal challenges of the future by building a new generation of machines, materials, and systems,” explains Sandra Balthazaar, Education Projects Manager at the IMechE.

“We are consistently rethinking ways in which we can support the academic and skills development of young undergraduates: challenging them to be more creative, bolder and better prepared for the world of work.”

Why do it?

There’s loads of reasons why getting involved in the Challenge is a good thing – from gaining practical design manufacturing and engineering skills to connecting and networking with other students.

The Challenge also offers an opportunity to meet engineering professionals and experts, develop teamwork skills, and of course, there’s a prize of up to £800.

But most of all, it is a chance for students to put learning into practice, gain new experiences, meet new friends and have some fun – all while gaining a great addition to their CV and skills portfolio.

Who’s in for 2019?

Challenges have varied over recent years, with students in 2017 designing a repeatable vehicle and teams from 2018 designing internal pipe-climbers.

This year, students are being challenged to design, build and test a device that can climb up the outside of a 15mm copper pipe and lift an increasing load in the form of a chain. You can find out more about the specifications here.

With the team application deadline of 28th February 2019, students will need to form teams and gather initial ideas asap in order to sign up.

David Polson, Senior University Teacher at the Department of Mechanical Engineering is the academic lead for students interested in taking part.

“The IMechE Design Challenge is another fantastic opportunity for students to build on what they are learning here at university,” explains David.

“They’ll get the chance to really develop and showcase their design manufacturing skills, as well as gain more teamwork, business planning, budgeting and presenting experience too. These are all really important skills that are invaluable to industry-ready young engineers, so if you’re in your first or second year of study and the Challenge sounds interesting, get involved!”

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