We catch up with Ria Rana, final year Mechanical Engineering student and winner of the ‘Innovation in Engineering’ award at InnovationFest to find out what it was like to win and to finish her degree in the middle of lockdown.
InnovationFest celebrates the end of the academic year in the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment and enables students to pitch their innovative ideas and compete to win prizes. Despite being moved online due to the pandemic, the Engineering Show at this year’s Innovation Fest was a huge success and showcased the incredible talent of BCU's engineering students, including final year BEng Mechanical Engineering student, Ria Rana.
How did you get involved with InnovationFest?
‘My lecturer Dominic Flynn was organising InnovationFest and encouraged us all to attend to celebrate the achievement of our degree. My supervisor Mohammed Salami also encouraged us to get involved.’
What did you like about being involved in the Engineering Show?
'Being involved with the engineering show allowed me to see and celebrate the success of my fellow students. Under the COVID-19 lockdown, it didn't feel like we had all finished our degree and a lot of us felt defeated by this news. Having the engineering show definitely raised spirits! It was also nice to see that all the hard work I had put into my dissertation was recognised by the panel. Winning the Innovation Award was a plus!’
How did you pick your topic?
'I wanted to pick a topic which I could connect and commit to as a dissertation. I started to think about how innovation in engineering could provide a creative solution to issues in today's society. Something which kept popping up in my research was anti-rape technology and the scrutiny it was under - a lot of the technology is inaccessible or ineffective in a sexual assault situation. I found a project from a student in India who created wearable technology that deters an attacker and sends your location to a given contact when it detects a certain amount of force. I found this really interesting.'
What was your project about?
‘My project was titled 'Application of Advanced Technology Based Devices on Sexual Assault Prevention'. It explored the use of anti-rape technology and prevention technology and the opinions of these products. I also carried out an experiment with drama students who played out different scenarios to see if the accelerometers and gyroscopes within my phone could detect whether the actors were being attacked or not.’
How did it feel to win an award for your project?
‘Initially, when I was attending the online event, I didn’t expect that I would be getting an award – I just thought it would be nice to get involved. I didn't think my name was being called out for a minute! Receiving the award was completely unexpected and made me feel like all the hard work I put into my project was worth it. I think I can speak for any student in saying it was a very stressful time trying to complete our final year project in the midst of a pandemic, so it’s a massive achievement to receive an award for it! I am particularly proud that the award was for Innovation, as I was one of the few who did not pick a title but made my own.’
How do you think this experience will benefit you in the future?
‘I think the award will benefit me in the future because it has put my name and work out there to be known by people in the industry and possibly my future employer. It was truly a privilege to receive this award and I'm very thankful for the recognition this will offer. Due to the current climate, I felt like I wouldn't be able to further my career, but this experience has taught me to never be defeated and to continue to persevere to achieve my career goals.’
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