Investigating a sustainable technology solution to help reduce global warming
Gerard Assoumou is part of one of the project teams working in the STEP lab. The project is the major team project, part of his final year Aeronautical Engineering MEng studies. Gerard tells us how he got involved in STEP lab and what the project he is working on is all about, as well as some insights into why he chose to study at Brighton.
I’ve always been passionate about planes and wanted to be a pilot since really little. In high school my interest for the technicality and complexity behind an aircraft kept growing and pushed me towards applying for aeronautical engineering. I choose Brighton because from the very few universities that proposed this course and that I visited on open days, Brighton had a more interactive touch to the learning process. I was looking forward to some of the classes and projects described on the open day by the students and of course the Simulation Suite. More to that, I found Brighton to be a really beautiful interesting city which played a huge part in deciding to come here.
The STEP (Sustainable Technology and Engineering Projects) Lab, is a student-driven laboratory supervised by Dr. Angad Panesar, where students focus on the challenges around energy production. The projects undertaken in the lab relate directly to energy conversion , heating, cooling etc.
I was first introduced to the lab by Angad himself as he was my internal examiner for the final year project. I was working on the Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)capabilities of two distinct software and he felt that the knowledge gained from that project could be put to good use and improved in the step lab for summer placement. I joined a team of two students working on the same software I used and we’ve been all having weekly meetings to share our findings over the project we were working on.
This project has been at the centre of the STEP lab before I even joined. Every year the MEng students of the lab work on this project as their major team project and bring it a step further. The work requires virtual and physical testing, so usually within the team two groups would be formed to allow a better work productivity for everyone.
It is the third phase of the “heat to power” theme of activities where the goal is the recovery of low-grade waste heat into electricity by using a technology solution called ORC (Organic Rankine Cycle). This 3rd iteration focusses on the build of this rig which is currently undergoing in the STEP Lab. Every day, large amounts of energy are wasted in the form of recoverable low-grade heat by industrial and transport sectors. Heat can be captured via renewable sources such as biomass and solar. This technology presents a sustainable solution that would in effect help reduce global warming.
For the major team project the team is formed of five members from automotive, mechanical and aeronautical engineering, and myself from the STEP lab. I am the team leader for this group but I am also responsible for the CFD simulations run on a software called Solidworks.
The challenges would definitely be maintaining a constant level of resilience and professionalism in the lab. When joining you must be aware of the commitment that the lab would require and you must be able to provide it. There is also the fact that I am the team leader this year for the major team project and in previous years I would tend to avoid this position in any group projects due to the fear of not performing as I should. But this challenge would be the best way to test myself and to also learn from it.
I enjoyed having conclusive results to share because I feel that I am contributing towards my project but also the lab and all the people that could benefit from my work. I also enjoy the barbecues we do every now and then as we have some of the best grill masters in the UK in our team so they are also guaranteed to be good.
I would definitely recommend my course as the interactive learning process is something that makes it more enjoyable throughout the years and there is also the fact that many more refinements are done on the course literally every year. I would recommend now that students get involved in projects or labs outside of their course as this helps definitely improve the learning curve they get in uni and will help them in their careers
I would say that it’s important to have an idea of what you want to do in the future and go into details of what this requires. When visiting the university on open days don’t be scared to ask anyone about these queries especially students because they were in the same situations as you. From there you can see if the university or the course will help you achieve what you want and also will allow you to experience the most throughout the three, four or even five years you will be doing.