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Brighton Students Develop IED Detection Device

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University Of Brighton
: 10 May, 2010  (Application Story)
Remote controlled sensing robot for the detection of roadside bombs developed by 6th form pupils at West Sussex School in response to task set by Engineers at Thales
Brighton Students Develop IED Detection Device
Sixth form students have invented a device that could reduce the biggest cause of casualties among troops in Afghanistan - improvised explosive devices or IEDs.

The students from Hazelwick School in Crawley, West Sussex, were set the task of constructing a remote-controlled robot platform that can carry sensor equipment to detect the roadside bombs.

Operating such a device by soldiers at safe distances alone reduces risks but their platform has an extra safety feature, a metal detector.

There is a range of detectors used by the military but, until now, metal detectors carried on platforms have been compromised by radio waves used to control the robot.

The Hazelwick students have come up with a way of shielding the metal detector from electronic interference and so boosting the detector’s performance.

They were set the task by a team of engineers from Thales UK, technology leader for the aerospace and space, defence, security and transportation markets.and keen supporter of technology and engineering activities with local schools.

The device was one of several innovations devised by schools and presented to companies at the University of Brighton for the annual Royal Academy of Engineering’s ‘Engineering Education Scheme’ which supports Year 12 students.

Tabraze Malik, hardware engineer with Thales UK, said he was impressed with the students’ work: “It was better than I had expected. It needs more refining – it can only detect metal objects the size of bricks and does not pick up items the size of 50p coins.

“There are techniques to suppress interference on detectors but the students’ have come up with one we have not investigated before and this could be used in future activities.”
Joe Hillier, head of physics at Hazelwick School, said: “The students worked really hard and have come up with a potentially viable option for detecting IEDs. They have done themselves and the school proud.”

The four students, aged 16 and 17, are Peter O’Sullivan, Vipulan Sivarajah, Imran Ahmed and Husman Mahmood. Peter said: “This was started seven months ago with a brainstorming session.” Husman added: “We’re really chuffed with the result.”

Brighton, Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College students, Daniel Marshall, Lewis Rawlinson, Ben Gerrey and Philippa Doutre, came up with an LED lighting system that responds to natural light, minimising the use of electricity and maximising efficiency.

Jonny McCormack, mechanical engineer with Mott MacDonald, Brighton-based engineering and development consultancy which set the task, said: “Their idea is something we will be investigating, especially for use in their own college classrooms.”

The presentation event, at the Cockcroft building in Lewes Road, was organised by STEM Sussex which is based at the university and which supports and encourages young people in Brighton and Hove, East Sussex and West Sussex, to “actively and enjoyably” engage with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Bronagh Liddicoat, STEM Sussex manager, said: “I was enormously impressed by the quality of the designs and the presentations, and I firmly believe that at least some of the innovations will make a real difference in their respective fields.

“It is vitally important we encourage and support our engineers and scientists of the future.” Professor Andrew Lloyd, Dean of the Faculty of Science & Engineering, said: “These projects demonstrate the global importance of engineering and the achievements made by the students are a testament to the creative and innovative capacity of young people to solve challenging engineering problems for societal benefit.”
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