Australia (RMIT University) Ingenious innovation for EnGenius 2022

Projects looking at using coal ash to strengthen road pavement and an Advanced Transvaginal Mesh that could treat Pelvic Organ Prolapse were some of the student projects presented at this year’s RMIT Engineering showcase.

The first in-person EnGenius awards ceremony since 2019 celebrated over 1,000 final year engineering student projects from eight disciplines, with nine groups winning awards for their engineering solutions addressing important issues facing the community.

Using fly ash in clay soil to help stabilise road pavement could also reduce its environmental impact, study finds

Sixty five million tonnes of brown coal is burned annually from mines in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley alone. Brown coal fly ash, which is a by-product of this process, goes to landfill.

It’s a problem Bachelor of Engineering (Civil and Infrastructure) (Honours) student Kaitlyn Ash said needs addressing now.

“There is an urgent need to find a sustainable use for the fly ash produced every year,” she said.

“There is also an abundance of clay soil in Victoria which needs to be stabilised for pavement subgrade applications.”

Currently, clay soil laid beneath road pavement cannot necessarily prevent cracks from appearing on the road’s surface.

As part of their EnGenius 2022 project, Ash and two other students found that combining 3% of fly ash with clay soil helps strengthen and stabilise the soil underneath road pavement to help stop this from happening.

“Using a locally generated waste by-product in this way is an important sustainable practice that can be implemented for future civil and construction applications,” Ash said.

Innovating current transvaginal mesh (TVM) technologies to treat Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)

POP occurs when one of the pelvic organs sags and may bulge or protrude into the vagina, and symptoms are seen in 1 in 12 women.

It’s something Bachelor of Engineering (Biomedical Engineering) (Honours) student Chaya Tiktin said is important to address.

“POP is impacting the day-to-day lives of many women, and currently there are no safe treatment methods,” Tiktin said.

In her project, Tiktin employed a novel polymer blend of electron-spun fibres in dynamic material which could be used to improve current technologies.

“By focusing on how the surface and mechanical properties influence the way the mesh would interact with the vaginal wall, and functionalising the material to allow visualisation whilst implanted, this project is likely to reduce complications and improve the quality of life of many women,” she said.

Generating green hydrogen from tin

Producing 100% green hydrogen is a highly viable step towards reducing carbon dioxide emissions and achieving net zero by 2050. One way of doing this is called electrolysis, the process of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen and a key part of electrolysis involves using elements like sodium, chlorine, magnesium and aluminium as catalysts.

For their project, Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical) (Honours) students Sandra Tran and Sabrina Yap Utama investigated the potential use of tin, bismuth and indium oxides as catalysts for hydrogen production.

They discovered that both tin and bismuth oxides were promising catalysts, a breakthrough that could see them be used to produce clean energy in the future.

“This is because their oxide layers have catalytic characteristics along with having low melting points (at room temperatures), high thermal and electrical conductivity,” Tran said.

“Using these materials would also be a lot cheaper than relying on traditional catalysts such as platinum.”

Real projects solving real problems

At the EnGenius 2022 awards ceremony, Professor Angela Carbone, Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor Learning Teaching and Quality – STEM, lauded the benefits of industry partnered programs like EnGenius at RMIT.

“With EnGenius, students get to work on real projects solving real problems,” Carbone said.

“They get to connect with industry and may even get to go on to an industry premises to get an understanding the company’s culture as well.”

“Students need that entrepreneurial eye because they might be coming up with a solution that’s truly unique for an industry which they can then potentially commercialise.”


Congratulations to all winning projects:

Civil and Infrastructure Engineering (two winners)

Project title 1: Use of Recycled and Waste Materials in Pavement: Stabilisation of Clay Soil with Fly Ash

Group names: Kaitlyn Ash, Mehdi Haidari and Bailey White

Project title 2: Evaluation of bearing capacity for thin web cold-formed steel sections

Group names: Esraa Salih, Haadi Zakkour, Ahamd Al-Tameemi and Elley Elley

Electrical and Biomedical Engineering

Project title: Developing an Advanced Transvaginal Mesh (TVM)

Group names: Chaya Tiktin

Electronic and Telecommunications Engineering

Project title: Software defined radio design and development for CubeSat satellite

Group names: Berk Dogan, Rinaldo Pender

Mechanical and Automotive Engineering

Project title: High resolution micro structural analysis of additive manufactured titanium hybrid to composite joints using the Australian Synchrotron

Group names: Lachlan White, Scott Hislop, Callum Bakken and Gina Norio

Chemical Engineering

Project title: Atomically thin electrocatalysts towards green hydrogen

Group names: Sandra Tran, Sabrina Yap Utama

Environmental Engineering

Project title: Protecting water from the impacts of coal seam gas development

Group names: Riley Nicholson, Katelyn Dooley, Monica Esmond and Rory Mullins

Aerospace Engineering

Project title: Understanding AM metal lattice defects and their effect on dynamic behaviour

Group names: Charlotte Mikic, Luke Busbridge

Manufacturing Materials and Mechatronic Engineering

Project title: Equipment Effectiveness Improvement at a Food Manufacturing Plant

Group names: Calum Ireland, Mateusz Chochowski

Click here to see all student projects.