About the Case Study
I was very lucky to come runner-up in the Senior Engineering Category in The Big Bang Competition 2019, and also won The Intel ISEF (International Science and Engineering Fair) Award. Both attending The Big Bang Fair in March for the Competition Finals, and then heading out to Phoenix in May for ISEF, were amazing experiences for me.
MotorMate, my project and inspiration
My project involved designing and manufacturing an innovative product, the MotorMate, to help move and transport boat outboard engines safely and across any terrain.
Boat engines are very expensive so it’s common practice to remove them after use and take them home for storage. I live by the sea and enjoy boating, so I know from personal experience that boat engines are very heavy (60kg+), inconvenient and dangerous to carry.
With no solutions to this problem on the market, I decided to make my own as part of my A Level Design & Technology project. I needed a solution that was small enough to fit in the boot of a hatchback, and I was determined to design a product that COMPLETELY eliminated the need of lifting the engine. With this as a primary focus, it would help prevent injuries and strain, it would reduce the level of effort and it will overall make the whole process more pleasurable.
Designing the MotorMate has made the worst job easy, and almost effortless. Now I don’t think twice about getting out on the boat!
The Big Bang Competition Finals
I learned a lot and I made some good friends at Finals. It is more than just a competition; The Big Bang Fair caters for many large companies and organisations that were interesting to talk to. The Competition was very well organised, and I can honestly say the 2 days absolutely flew by!
My week at Intel ISEF
Presenting my project at Intel ISEF in Phoenix, Arizona was a fantastic life experience and a week that I will never forget. To be one of the 1842 finalists in an international competition is a massive achievement for anyone, and to represent the UK with my project was a great honour.
Many events took place at ISEF, including the pin-badge exchange where we met lots of others from all around the world and exchanged pins with our country’s flags. One evening we were even treated by ISEF to watch a local baseball game. This was another great opportunity to meet people our age and to make new friends.
Judging day was on the Wednesday, and the fair opened to the public on the Thursday. In total I had 12 interviews from 12 different judges. Judging went well, the judges were very impressed with my project and I gained valuable feedback. On Wednesday evening there was a social event/mixer that also took place, with lots of things to do; a disco, arcade games and free food.
Aside from taking part in the competition, we hired a minibus with team Ireland and began exploring Arizona to do some sightseeing. We visited Sedona, the Botanical gardens and drove along the Apache trail, stopping at a picturesque viewpoint of the Canyon Lake. Temperatures reached 45°C!
The highlight of the trip for me was meeting all the other finalists from so many different parts of the world. I made some great friends at ISEF, and I will continue to keep in touch with them all in the future.
My hopes for the future
Having received funding from my university by taking part in their ‘Accelerator Programme’, I am currently in the process of starting up a business to hopefully get my invention onto the market.
I am going to try and do this alongside my university degree; I am studying civil engineering at Swansea University and I hope to work as a structural engineer in the future.
My advice for future competitors of The Big Bang Competition
First up, I would recommend not having too much text on your poster, if any at all. I only had pictures on my board which I then used extensively during judging to help explain my project. The judges have limited time and they are more likely to listen to what you have to say rather than read pages and pages of writing!
Also if you have a prototype of some sort and/or a video that helps to show your project, definitely bring them and they will help to easily get your explanation across to the judges.
Finally, I wouldn’t over rehearse for the judging as you want more than just a canned speech. Come up with an opening pitch 2-3 minutes long and the questions will follow afterwards. After all you know your project better than anyone.
It’s an enjoyable experience. Good luck!