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Southbank UTC

James Marr

Published: 17th October 2017

Written by: James Marr


As part of their BTEC First Certificate in Engineering, students in Year 10 at Southbank UTC have been learning about the process of selecting materials, their behaviour in use and their ultimate limits.

Through a joint project with the ‘Bamboo Bicycle Club’, students are shown the link between sustainable engineering Tom described the technology the team used to achieve this: “We interfaced the LED lights with a Bluetooth block and then designed an ‘App’ to allow communication with the lights over the Internet.’

To keep communication with the lighting as simple as possible, Raigeda described how they used a well-known form of social media: Callum, Tom, Raigeda, and Dragomir explain the lighting system on the model of Waterloo Bridge. Students and staff assemble bamboo frames. Bamboo Bicycles at Southbank UTC Seeing the light at LDE UTC Changing colours is not the only interactive feature of their lighting system. It can also be used to send messages.

As sustainability becomes a bigger part of modern design and manufacture, the project has been a key tool in enabling students to see the bigger picture. It has been a fun project but students have to justify their choices as they learn about the materials’ vibration absorption properties, low density and ultimate strength and how these can be harnessed to produce bicycles lighter than the competitors mass-produced aluminium efforts.” To change the colour of the lighting, we have designed it so you can use Twitter and send a tweet using #LDEWaterloo followed by the colour you wish to change it to.” and modern materials.

They also gain an appreciation for the craft involved in the manufacture of a fully sustainable bicycle; from choosing suitable geometry and cutting the perfect joints, to binding the frame with hemp and the final assembly. David Bell, Director of Engineering at Southbank UTC explains the benefits of this novel project: “We have even incorporated Morse code – so instead of the colour you type in the word and the Morse sequence is flashed by the LED strip,” explained Callum. At the exhibition, their design generated a great deal of interest from several major companies keen to develop their lighting system. ‘Senior figures in these companies were amazed at what we could do – having technology like this just blew people away and some did not know how the technology works, but we do,” explained Tom. He added: “Students see this as an industrial project as they use their project and time management skills, access professionally manufactured jigs and bespoke parts during the build and are exposed to costing and marketing activities. The first fleet of bikes took to the paths of the local park on a lovely sunny morning for preliminary testing. Students put the bikes through their paces, testing each in line with BS14781 the standards for racing bikes. The lack of any failures is testament to the quality of their work.”