On the 15th February over 50 students from across the faculty and beyond descended upon Merchant Venturers Building to participate in Bristol Electrical and Electronic Engineering Society’s (BEEES) 24 hour Make-a-thon. Teams are given 24 hours to come up with and execute a project to fit a topical brief – this year’s main brief being climate change and environmental sustainability. To combat this challenge our teams created a range of products, some of which were: 

  • Parking space sensors linked to your car 
  • A system to incentivise donation to a reforestation charity 
  • A map that visualises sea level change 
  • Rotten food detection 

The winning team made an app that allows workers in warehouses to specify where exactly in a building they want to go, causing only lights on the shortest path to be turned on to save electricity. They demonstrated this by building a mini warehouse with a grid of LEDS that were controlled by an Arduino and an ESP32. This was then connected to a phone using Bluetooth.

After some long hours of working and intense napping the teams presented to judges from event sponsors ARM and faculty members Dr Edmund Harbord and Dr Francesco Fornetti. The judging is based on creativity, business value, innovation, and functionality. The latter can sometimes prove the biggest challenge of all – it is definitely worth noting that some of the best projects often don’t completely work! A couple of the groups worked within the ‘free for all’ remit leading to the entertaining entry of a system that 3D printed butter onto toast – this was definitely a high scorer in the creativity category! 

The event is a great opportunity for students to get hands on, demonstrating and developing their practical and creative skills. Industry sponsors, ARM, are intrigued year-on-year with what the students at the University of Bristol come with and they are certainly never disappointed. Make-a-thon is always a fun event for the judges, allowing them to see just how their teaching is being put into practice. Runner up, Dario, values the event so much as real engineering needs opportunities to design and build innovative ideas, which is exactly the opportunity Make-a-thon gives you to complement course learning. 

BEEES loves running Make-a-thon every year to get students from a range of disciplines involved in some engineering outside of their courses. From first year to final year, its always great to see everyone working together to come up with innovative and entertaining projects.