In spite of the limitations imposed by the COVID restrictions, sufficient applications were received in the 2020-21 session for a total of £13,050 to be awarded.

Awards made in January 2021

Due to COVID restrictions, only six Awards were made in January 2021, and no applications were received for the Constructionarium scheme, as the field courses could not take place. On this occasion, the total awarded was £2,550.

Paddy McEwen, MEng, Product Design Engineering received an award of £250 towards a project to modify the control bar and seat of a wheelchair based on a Segway scooter, to make it easier for users to leave and enter.

The development of a telescopic control bar which avoids impeding the user’s legs when attempting to dismount, and making the seat adjustable for height allows the user to slide onto another surface, were the aims of Paddy’s design for a self-balancing wheelchair.

Klitos Papaefstathiou and Augustas Sereika, MEng, Electronics and Electrical Engineering received an award of £1,200 for the purchase of components for a project to develop a low-energy laser-powered microphone, and the results of their project are described in their project report.

Martin Barnsby-Greer and Rory Ortlepp, MEng, Electronics and Electrical Engineering were awarded £200 for the development of a Visible Light Communication transmitter and receiver, using visible light instead of radio frequency to transmit data. There is more information below about visible light communication, and you can find a report on what was achieved on a separate page.

Juan Sanz de Bremond, MEng, Product Design Engineering received an award of £400 for prototyping, to replace conventional air conditioning with a more environmentally friendly technology which uses water as the refrigerant in an evaporative cooling device.

Ben Sammut, MEng, Product Design Engineering was awarded £300 for the purchase of components required to build a prototype of an air purifier using recyclable organic materials rather than conventional HEPA filters. Due to COVID restrictions, Ben is working from his home in Malta, so he has come to an arrangement with the University of Malta to use some of their facilities to prototype a sustainable air purification device.

Gerardo Lerma, MEng, Product Design Engineering was awarded £200. A secondary monitor for use with a laptop is ever more desirable when working remotely, bur commercially available models are expensive and rely on a physical connection, so Gerardo hopes to improve on it by developing a portable secondary monitor for wireless use, which can be easily set up and put away.

Awards made in November 2020

Due to COVID restrictions, only three Awards were made in November 2020. However, all the successful applications were made by groups of students who were felt to be making a real, hands-on contribution to engineering projects, both technically and commercially. A total of £10,500 was distributed in the first session.


An Award of £6,000 was made as a contribution to the Electric and Driverless Vehicle projects being developed by UGRacing, which Fraser Cowie described to the Trust.

GU Rocketry

GU Rocketry received An Award of £1,500 towards a project to design, build and launch high-powered rockets from Scotland was made to GU Rocketry.

GU Orbit

An Award of £3,000 was made to GU Orbit for their Astraeus-01 project.

More information

Paddy McEwen

The aim of Paddy McEwen’s project is to design and construct improvements for a self-balancing wheelchair, such as those based on the Segway. He has been working closely with users of these devices throughout the project and has gathered valuable information about the design requirements, and feedback on prototype iterations.

Paddy explains that, “Self-balancing wheelchairs basically consist of a seat, stabiliser mechanism and handlebar connected to the top of a Segway. These devices have already been life-changing for their buyers and are steadily replacing standard electric wheelchairs. However, there are still several issues associated with them. I am focusing on solving the two most significant of these issues. Firstly, the current handlebar must be constantly removed and reattached to the chair to allow users on and off. This is a tricky and tiresome process that usually requires assistance from a helper. To solve this, I am developing a telescopic handle that can remain in place and simply be collapsed when the user needs to exit the chair. Secondly, I am developing a small scissor lift that integrates with self-balancing wheelchair geometry. This will allow height adjustment to be incorporated into the product – meaning the number of level transfers to and from the chair can be maximised.

Juan Sanz de Bremond

One of the alternatives to conventional air conditioning is Evaporative Cooling; a technology that has been used over centuries and even today has the potential of reducing the energy consumption by 75% by simply using water as refrigerant. The use of conventional HVAC systems for residential purposes is growing exponentially every year, and contributes significantly to the global warming effect, so we need cooling alternatives.

Current portable EC devices have a very poor reputation due to their low applicability, their periodic maintenance and the overall poor assembly (from the materials to the actual design). So, it is in those problems where the goals of the project are. The current concept involves reimagining the current devices upon two main pillars that would change the user’s perception towards this type of devices: design for assembly so that all parts of the system are easily accessed, making the maintenance easier and more engaging for the user; and improve the performance by studying optimised fan mechanisms, like mixed-flow fans instead of the commonly found axial fans, which would allow to achieve a more compact design and reduce noise levels.

The award will allow Juan to acquire the material needed to work on physical models as well as to acquire hardware, such as a small water filtration system, boards and water/air quality sensors so that he can properly test the electronic system that allows the user to have a new and more engaging experience with the product.

Ben Sammut

Ben’s proposal is to create a sustainable air purification system that utilises natural, biodegradable and reusable air filters. According to Ben, people living in developed countries typically spend 90% or more of their time indoors, but modern homes are becoming increasingly airtight and may therefore trap a great number of pollutants and chemicals indoors. This might be from indoor cooking, mould, dust and pet dander, spray and detergents, tobacco smoke, building materials and furniture. Most of the products that track and improve air quality are made using unsustainable materials and although HEPA Filters are the gold standard for air purification, they are made of plastic and are non-recyclable, non-reusable and must be replaced frequently. The filters, which are currently in development, will be made of cotton (for PM 5.0), coconut fibres (for PM 10), micro-algae and hydrogel (for PM2.5, CO2 capture, and O2 production) and bamboo activated charcoal (VOCs).

Ben has already purchased components for an indoor air quality monitor (using Raspberry Pi roughly £75) and he would like to purchase some additional sensors (PM2.5, CO2 roughly £65), filtration materials (for testing and iteration roughly £50), prototyping and modelling materials (cardboard and PLA filament for 3D printing roughly £50), and lastly materials to create the final prototype out of bamboo and purchase final components, such as a motor for the intake fan.

Gerardo Lerma

A portable secondary monitor brings many benefits when working: increased productivity is the main one. Dual monitors take up a lot of space, which might not be a problem in an office, but it is an issue for a lot of people who work from home. Gerardo is designing a portable monitor aimed at people who use their laptops at work and do not have a fixed workspace, so they can also benefit from using two screens. Unlike fixed monitors, this device will allow users to take it with them wherever they go and store it along with their laptop when not using it. It will be lightweight, thin, robust and easy to set up.

The Award will help Gerardo purchase the main components to make a working prototype; screen and control board, as well as 3D printing the casing; and help to purchase the equipment needed to build the prototype; a soldering kit and a multimeter, as he has no access to these tools from the university due to the current situation.


UGRacing is the Formula Student team representing the University of Glasgow.  They are a team of 136 students who design and build a single seat race car to compete against other universities at Silverstone in an international competition held annually in July.  For the first time in the UGRacing’s history, they will be entering into three separate categories at the competition in 2021. UGR20, the car which began development in August 2019 and should complete manufacture in Spring 2021, will be entered as their Combustion Vehicle (CV). Over the last few months, they have also been hard at work developing a concept for an Electric Vehicle (EV); the designs will be presented to the competition judges and manufacture will begin in Autumn 2021. Finally, they will be using the software developed by the Driverless sub-team to compete in the Driverless Vehicle (DV) category. (download more here – this is quite a large pdf)

GU Rocketry 

GU Rocketry designs, builds and launches high-powered rockets from Scotland. Having now grown to 60 members, ranging from first year undergraduates to PhD candidates, they aim to bridge the gap between education and industry, preparing students for a successful career in the Space Industry through practical, hands-on experience. By working closely with various companies throughout Scotland, GU Rocketry will complete a series of launch campaigns, with increasing altitude goals while developing new technologies – a first for student rocketry in Scotland. The GU68 grant will enable them to fund key components for future launches and will help to establish a solid foundation for years to come. (more here)

GU Orbit

GU Orbit is a student-led society of over 40 students at the University of Glasgow, and their project is to develop and launch a Cubesat, a type of nano-satellite, into space. Working on a real-life space project contributes to thinking and working as mature engineers and provides invaluable hands-on experience which goes beyond any University course. Additionally, members working on the project practise communication, teamwork and negotiation skills and some of the graduating members from last year stayed in the space industry.

Astreus-01 is a nano-satellite mission orbiting at around 500km altitude. The satellite has a camera on board which will capture images of the earth and at the end of themission, a parachute-like membrane will be deployed to slow down the satellite. As a result, the spacecraft will lose altitude much faster and eventually burn onto earth’s atmosphere much sooner than otherwise. This means the satellite will spend less time being a space junk, which is an important space concern. There is a visual explanation here, and a short video here.

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