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A Pillar of Mechanical Engineering Design Education in Australia: 25 Years of the Warman Design and Build Competition

[+] Author Affiliations
Warren F. Smith

University of NSW, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Paper No. DETC2013-12647, pp. V001T04A003; 13 pages
  • ASME 2013 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 1: 15th International Conference on Advanced Vehicle Technologies; 10th International Conference on Design Education; 7th International Conference on Micro- and Nanosystems
  • Portland, Oregon, USA, August 4–7, 2013
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5584-3
  • Copyright © 2013 by ASME


The “Warman Design and Build Competition”, running across Australasian Universities, is now in its 26th year in 2013. Presented in this paper is a brief history of the competition, documenting the objectives, yearly scenarios, key contributors and champion Universities since its beginning in 1988. Assuming the competition has reached the majority of mechanical and related discipline engineering students in that time, it is fair to say that this competition, as a vehicle of the National Committee on Engineering Design, has served to shape Australasian engineering education in an enduring way. The philosophy of the Warman Design and Build Competition and some of the challenges of running it are described in this perspective by its coordinator since 2003. In particular, the need is for the competition to work effectively across a wide range of student group ability. Not every group engaging with the competition will be competitive nationally, yet all should learn positively from the experience. Reported also in this paper is the collective feedback from the campus organizers in respect to their use of the competition as an educational experience in their classrooms. Each University participating uses the competition differently with respect to student assessment and the support students receive. However, all academic campus organizer responses suggest that the competition supports their own and their institutional learning objectives very well. While the project scenarios have varied widely over the years, the intent to challenge 2nd year university (predominantly mechanical) engineering students with an open-ended statement of requirements in a practical and experiential exercise has been a constant. Students are faced with understanding their opportunity and their client’s value system as expressed in a scoring algorithm. They are required to conceive, construct and demonstrate their device with limited prior knowledge and experience, and the learning outcomes clearly impact their appreciation for teamwork, leadership and product realization.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME



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