On Tuesday of last week, the school’s Engineering Education Scheme’s (EES) team of Angel, Kaat and Minnie, accompanied by Mrs Williams made their way up to Bath University for the start of their 3-day residential workshop. There they met up with their Wessex Water project mentor, Kate Silby, and students from 20 other schools also undertaking EES projects. Here is the diary record of the team’s experience during the workshop:
After an early arrival on Tuesday morning to the Chancellors building at Bath University, an interesting introductory talk about engineering (the application of mathematical & science concepts to create practical & useful things that benefit people) followed by Health & Safety brie ng kick-started our time on this three day residential.
Following this, we were promptly shown to our allocated Mechanical Engineering lab for the workshop. Discovering a problem with the water supply there we made a swift move to the Civil Engineering Dept. where there was a sink with running water – it was also closer to the University’s flume tank, which we used the following day. Our afternoon was spent sorting out a suitable connection from the water supply to our various prototype pipes which we had made in Design Technology over the previous few weeks.
Very frustratingly we discovered a problem when water failed to come out of our pipe models at very low flow rates. With the help of university staff, we realised it was due to there being a vacuum above the water which caused a negative pressure. After taking their advice we resolved the issue, thus letting us test the principles of our different models and gather a set of results allowing us to compare their efficiency. Following our labs session, we explored the Engineering Department and whole University campus before heading to dinner with the rest of the EES teams. Finally, we took a bus to our hotel accommodation for a well-earned night’s rest.
The day of the flume tank (very exciting!!). Having watched our first weir model float off down the tank due to it not being held down securely enough, we launched into testing the effectiveness of our model weirs for chemical mixing downstream of the dosing point. We managed to use a washer bolted onto a lug (the little metal tube used to attach the models to flume), to fix our models more securely in place to prevent them moving downstream.
We were aiming for the model which produced the maximum lateral mixing and turbulence, to ensure our chemical was evenly distributed in the channel of water before the flow is split in two. Using fluorescein dye we observed what happened to the water flow over the weirs & came to the conclusion that even though they produced good turbulence, we needed to investigate alternate methods, such a venturi system, which could improve the lateral mixing.
We finished our day by testing that our models could deal with the high flow rates, the hot glue gun came to the rescue for one of our prototypes, with last minute repairs!
Dinner was followed by a very interesting Q & A session with current Bath University engineering undergraduates. Would definitely think about adding Bath Uni to our UCAS shortlist.
Testing, testing and more testing. After another frustrating hour spent trying to sort out a constant water flow at low rates, we got on with testing our prototype sparge bar models. However, this proved more of a challenge than we had expected due to the intermittent water flow from the tap.
We tested all our models and got the results needed to plot our graphs showing the evenness (or not!) of water distribution from each hole. As hoped, the straw model worked the best at all flow rates. The workshop ended with advice about the Celebration & Assessment Day at the end of the project in June.
As well as progressing our project we learnt a huge amount during the workshop and experienced some of the highs, and lows, of engineering project work.