CPISP scholar Qasim Al Mansoor, a recent Mechanical Engineering/Mechatronics graduate, had the pleasure of taking part in the annual Institute of Mechanical Engineers Railway Challenge during his final year at Southampton University. Qasim and his team of fellow students had to design, build, and test a 10.25 inch gauge miniature locomotive from scratch, making this the first time for Southampton to enter this challenge and compete against other experienced university and industrial teams such as Transport for London and Interfleet. Within 6 months and a budget of £19k, Qasim and his team successfully delivered the locomotive, coming out on top of the university teams and an overall 3rd of the 8 teams competing in the challenge. They also scored a new record in the Energy Efficiency Challenge with the system they designed, and achieved almost twice the distance of the previous record, beating previous winners and industry teams alike.
“It was a stressful but a very rewarding experience,” recounts Qasim. “I was personally involved in the design and construction of the electronics and control system, which is an integral part of the locomotive. I was responsible for the hardware and software required to control and monitor traction, brakes, energy recovery and various other sensing systems - I basically made the train move, haha!.”
“Throughout the project, I have been able to gain both technical and interpersonal skills, and apply them to a very industry-like project; programming micron-controllers, developing and constructing circuits, running simulations, communicating with suppliers and manufacturing companies, team work, design and project management. It was definitely hard work, and as a group who has known each other for a while, the sleepless long nights in the lab were definitely more fun.”
“The locomotive had to satisfy a set of rules outlined in a technical specification, forcing teams to think about solutions to several challenges faced by the Railway industry today, such as traction system efficiency, innovative uses of energy, energy efficiency and noise and vibration control.”
“The locomotive was also showcased in the science and engineering fairs at the university, which encourage school students to go into science and engineering. We entered a design show and were gained the crowd's vote as the best project.”
“The control system I designed has entered the National Instruments Student Design Contest, the results of which will be announced in November. However, we did get an email saying we have a strong entry and our success in the Railway challenge has boosted our chances. In addition to the attention we gained from the general public, we were able to establish links with many local suppliers, manufacturing companies, as well as Eastleigh Lakeside Miniature Railway testing facility where we were able to test our locomotive and optimize it for the competition. The project has brought attention to the faculty of Engineering and is now considered promotional material for open days/employment and research opportunities.”
“The locomotive, named Hartley, sits in the faculty of Engineering and the Environment now. The project will run in future years again where other teams can optimize our design and hopefully achieve a better result. I have been involved in many projects over the years but this one was certainly my favorite. It's a legacy that will always be remembered by me and all the people who have been part of the project.”
Please visit the below links for more pictures and a video of the project assembly and testing.