A team of Students from Loughborough University took home first prize in The Royal Academy of Engineering’s recent Poster Competition in Engineering Design for Sustainable Development.

Richard Schofield, James Smith and Martin Ward, all 4th year MEng students, designed the most eco-friendly vacuum cleaner the judges had ever seen.
View poster (269.86 KB)

Better than other cyclonics, it not only cleans effectively, but is also the result of re-manufacture, re-using and recycling. With an overall 27% improvement on environmental impact compared to standard designs, reduced carcinogenicity and 16 material types reduced to 7, is this new breed of cleaner the vacuum cleaner of tomorrow?

The competition involved 25 universities which are currently part of The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Visiting Professors in Engineering Design for Sustainable Development or Visiting Professors in Principles of Engineering Design schemes.

David Foxley of The Royal Academy of Engineering and organizer of the competition says,

“The team’s design is a remarkable achievement that has recognized a real need and has developed not only the concept of a more environmentally friendly vacuum cleaner , but has also produced a working prototype that is ready for commercial development.”

The students developed their design at Loughborough University’s Centre for ‘Sustainable Manufacturing and Reuse/Recycling Technologies (SMART)’. Dr Shahin Rahimifard, Director of the Centre, says,

“I am delighted with the team’s success in this prestigious competition. Their design not only reduces the environmental impact of the vacuum cleaner during its use, but also ensures that it can be safely recycled at the end of the product’s life. This is the ethos of SMART.”

Notes for editors

  1. Runners up were the team from Bristol University: View poster (745.46 KB)
  2. Founded in 1976, the Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship - comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers - provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.
  3. The Academy’s Visiting Professors in Principles of Engineering Design initiative was started in 1989 and is active in 46 UK universities. Admission to the scheme has been by competitive bidding upon an invitation from The Academy. Engineering design encompasses those activities which intelligently associate useful, economic, reliable and appropriate ideas with technology to define an engineering project, product, process or system to satisfy a market need. The good engineering designer is therefore a key link in the industrial environment. There has been a national failure over many years to recognise fully the importance of engineering design, which has in turn contributed to a serious loss of international competitiveness. Recognising the importance of rectifying this national weakness, The Royal Academy of Engineering considered carefully what initiatives it might take during the 1990s which would quickly address the heart of the problem. The Academy’s answer has taken the form of a scheme of Visiting Professors in Principles of Engineering Design. This enables distinguished, senior engineers in business to work with their academic colleagues to provide a bridge for undergraduates from education to industry. Their role is to demonstrate and transmit to students and staff that design is the integrating theme in all the engineering disciplines within the university.
  4. The Academy’s Visiting Professors in Engineering Design for Sustainable Development scheme was launched in 1998. Sustainable Development can be defined as, ‘development that meets the needs of the present generation, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. The Academy sees that the challenge for engineers is to provide engineering solutions that will achieve such an aim. The purpose of this scheme is to develop teaching materials, based on case studies, which will enhance both the understanding and the practice of teaching Sustainable Development. Convincing case studies can only be developed by leading edge industrial practitioners working as Visiting Professors in unison with experienced teachers, making this scheme a very close partnership between industry and academia.

For more information please contact

Claire McLoughlin at the Royal Academy of Engineering