The preparation of engineering students for industrial careers after graduating is a vital part of the education process at university. It is the responsibility of the university to teach sound foundations of engineering science but this on its own is not sufficient preparation. The subject of design has been identified as a valuable means by which engineering science can be applied at advanced levels but at the same time teach students skills which are necessary for successful careers in industry.
Three years ago, five senior engineers from UK industry were appointed as Visiting Professors in Engineering Design with the support of the Royal Academy of Engineering. In was decided after discussions with academics at the college to undertake a project entitled the Advanced Turbogenerator project (ATG). The project was to be conducted by a large team of undergraduates with the aim of producing a design and finally an actual small gas turbine of 50 kW output. Applications for the small gas turbine include the highly topical hybrid vehicle propulsion powertrain and compact low emissions generator sets.
The paper describes the progress made in the project in two years which has involved over 30 final year engineering students in the Mechanical, Electrical, Aeronautical and Materials Science Departments. The students have found the project very challenging but have experienced an unusually high level of motivation and commitment to the work. They have been provided with state of the art software and have demonstrated that realistic designs can be produced with the guidance of experienced gas turbine engineers. The project has been reviewed by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and both have expressed the highest support for the programme. It is intended to continue the project next year with the intention of turning the design into prototype hardware.