Student showcase attracts more than 200 industry professionals

Student Showcase, man on a bike

Staffordshire University’s industry pioneers got to show off their final year projects last week at the GradEX23 showcase.

Taking part alongside the annual Degree Show, the event gave students from across the university the opportunity to showcase their projects, research and inventions to more than 200 industry professionals.

Among them was Amin Ruprecht, a lorry driver from Stoke-on-Trent, whose final year project involved the development of a sustainable composite brick using plastic waste in a bid to help tackle environmental pollution.

The Mechanical Engineering student used shredded and chopped plastic with traditional materials of sand, cement and water which were cast in a 3D printed square mould before being compression tested.

Amin, 48, said: “The tests showed it was stronger than standard. I’ve not seen anyone doing this and think it could be of particular use in low and middle income countries where plastic pollutions is an increasing problem.”

For her final year project, Psychology and Child Development student Heather Cassidy researched crystal therapy as an intervention for low level anxiety. Heather, who worked as a holistic therapist before Covid hit, worked with nine people who kept a mood diary and were interviewed about their experiences.

She found that seven out of the nine experienced improved sleep and all participants reported having positive cognitive change as a result of the crystal therapy which involves a deep state of relaxation.

She said: “I am looking for a psychology role where I can continue to grow my skills whilst helping people with their mental health. I’m passionate about research and applying evidence-based research in practice.”

Mo Trundel, Chair of the Design Forum at Staffordshire Chambers, said: “The standard of the Transport and Product design degree show was outstanding this year.

“Judging alongside JCB and Bentley it was a privilege to spend all day speaking to students whose briefs ranged from intelligent heating, to toys and cars all pushing the boundaries of innovation. Designers are the life blood of industry pushing boundaries and certainly feeding our manufacturers with the next generation of sustainable products.”

Engineering Design student Morgan Simmons competes as an elite cyclist alongside his studies and has designed a downhill mountain bike. Influenced by world cup level bikes, he has built a full-sized prototype featuring a steel frame and specialist suspension link using 3D printed parts made out of Onyx and carbon fibre.

Morgan is part of Staffordshire University’s High Performance Academy and will be competing in the Crankworx World Tour in Austria later this month.

The 21-year-old from Telford said: “I’ve wanted to make a bike since the first year because it’s something I’m really passionate about. It has been pretty cool getting to use cutting edge processes and equipment at the uni to enhance design characteristics like the suspension link.”

Carolina Salinas, Head of Student and Employability said: “GradEX 23 has been a wonderful event and we thank our students for demonstrating just how work and world-ready they are. We also thank our industry guests and partners who have come to view the projects, recruit students and to act as judges.

“We’re delighted to say that our portal, which includes links to students’ profiles, porfolios and CVs remains open and accessible throughout the summer, presenting employers with the opportunity to browse the incredible talent we have at Staffordshire University.”

All student projects can viewed via the online GradEX Portal.

Staffordshire University’s ambition is to become the UK’s best modern university. An institution with a strong civic mission, it has committed to being a ‘catalyst for change’ for students and businesses, positively impacting wider society and the regional economy.

Staffordshire University was named a Top 5 university in the UK and ranked Top 10 for job prospects in the StudentCrowd University Awards 2022 – based entirely on student reviews. It also ranked Top 10 for Social Inclusion in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023.

The 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF) classed 68% of the University’s research as world leading or internationally excellent and 87% of its ‘research impact’ was judged to be outstanding or very outstanding.

Substantial investment in innovative technologies and teaching environments ensure next generation courses and education are delivered across all three campuses in Stoke-on-Trent, Stafford and London.

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