Fostering eco-friendly solutions


Thong (middle) with Dr Nishata (right) and Chua with their winning creation after being announced champion in the 2023 Integrated Design Project Short Video competition, under the mechanical category.

ENGAGING in innovative projects empowers students to become sustainability champions, as they actively explore and implement eco-friendly solutions.

These projects instill a deep understanding of the interconnectivity between innovation and environmental responsibility, fostering a generation of conscious problem-solvers.

By integrating innovation with sustainability, students not only enhance their skillsets but also contribute meaningfully to a more environmentally resilient and socially responsible global landscape.

Such is the case of Joyce Thong Shu Hui, a Mechanical Engineering student from UOW Malaysia, who emerged as the champion in the 2023 Integrated Design Project Short Video competition’s mechanical category.

The competition was organised by The Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM)’s engineering education technical division.

Her project, titled “Design and Development of Sustainable and Lightweight Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (Drone) Structure,” was recognised for showcasing an impressive combination of innovation and sustainability.

Thong’s objective was to revolutionise drone technology by creating an optimally designed octocopter tailored for parcel delivery needs.

Thong proudly showing off her creation, designed for parcel delivery needs.Thong proudly showing off her creation, designed for parcel delivery needs.

Under the guidance of UOW Malaysia’s lecturers Dr R.Nishata and Chua Huang Shen, the project incorporated cutting-edge methodologies, including topology optimisation and 3D printing techniques, with a focus on sustainable reinforced composite materials.

The design project revealed a comprehensive journey towards achieving an optimised octocopter with enhanced structural efficiency, reduced weight, and heightened sustainability.

Thong utilised Wood-PLA filament, an innovative combination of polylactic acid and wood fibres, to create a drone that not only benefits the environment but also significantly reduces weight.

Throughout the project, rigorous testing and material analysis were conducted, culminating in actual test flights that assessed the drone’s performance, stability, and payload capacity.

The optimised drone design achieved a remarkable 29.9% reduction in weight, coupled with a notable 31.25% increase in payload capacity, showcasing the project’s success in achieving both efficiency and sustainability.

Despite encountering challenges related to the hygroscopic nature of Wood-PLA during the additive manufacturing process, Thong’s project sets a new standard for drone technology.

By demonstrating the potential of integrating advanced materials and manufacturing techniques, this initiative emphasises sustainable practices in the rapidly evolving field of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Thong’s work not only highlights her ingenuity but also serves as an inspiration for future developments in the field of drone technology.

At UOW Malaysia, the Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering programme empowers students to apply the principles of physics and material science to design, produce and operate a wide variety of equipment and systems.

Notably, students like Thong exemplify this application by making impactful contributions to the community through her innovation.

For details on UOW Malaysia’s engineering programmes, head to their campuses in Selangor or Penang, or visit www.uow.edu.my/programmes/engineering/

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