20th December 2018
Once again Hawkins has been working with the Engineering Department at University College London (UCL) to deliver a week long module on Forensic Engineering to their second year undergraduate Mechanical Engineering students.
In conjunction with Senior Lecturers, Hawkins’ Technical Director, Dr Andrew Prickett, and his colleague Nicola Fallowfield-Smith (both of Hawkins’ Reigate Office), developed a scenario describing a mechanical system that failed and resulted in a fatal incident. Students were provided with a volume of papers, akin to a legal bundle, including witness statements, photographs, a ‘fabricated’ condition survey from the Health and Safety Executive, British Standards, Building Regulations and manufacturers’ literature. On the first day of guest lectures, the students were instructed to vote, based on the facts presented, for whether the mechanical failure had been due to the design, operation, or maintenance of the item.
The object of the students’ week-long project was to understand: how the item functioned, its design intent, and how it failed. Students were asked to pay particular attention to the sequence of failure. An essential part of the task involved analysing patterns of damage in order to determine whether the damage was symptomatic of the cause, or simply a result of it. The Students had to give their findings as an oral presentation, in which they were asked to provide an engineering opinion as to whether or not the original design complied with the appropriate Standards. They were also tasked with suggesting improvements that would help to make the incident less likely to occur again. In this regard, the most accomplished Students not only correctly identified the sequence of failure, but also made appropriate and proportionate improvements to the item’s design and working practices. There were also numerous innovative and imaginative re-designs of the whole system, as the Students were able to flex their engineering creativity.
Dr Prickett & Mrs Fallowfield-Smith look forward to working with UCL again in 2019.