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Innovation At Cambridge University

8 August 2016

Costain recently sponsored an innovation and design competition at Cambridge University, which asked first year students to come up with new ideas for recycling and waste processing.

The first year Product Design course at Cambridge University’s Engineering Department (CUED) introduces the students to the principles of design. The course outlines the techniques that might be used to understand the problem, explore a range of solutions and then select and refine those solutions. The course assignment requires students to work on an open-ended challenge and then present their exploration of the problem and their proposed solution.

Over 300 students took part in the Dragon’s Den style event. After being split into groups of 20, each student was given three minutes to pitch his or her ideas to a panel of judges drawn from the university’s lecturing staff and representatives from industry. They then had to field questions for two minutes.

Some of the ideas included an automated hybrid waste disposal truck, while another group came up with ‘Bintrest’- an app which reminds people about bin days, as well providing additional information about recycling. Another group came up with an entire subterranean under-city conveyor belt recycling system.

Each winning group’s idea is then reviewed by a committee and the top 3-4 students will be given prizes, donated by Costain, at the Departmental prize ceremony in November.

“The participation of industry leading companies like Costain is key to the (learning) process, focusing the students' attention on solutions that are not only creative, but also technically and economically feasible. Events like these allow students an early stage in their careers to discuss their work with representatives from a broad range of industry sectors, an experience the students value highly. It is only through the generous sponsorship that Costain provides that all this is possible,” said Dr Nathan Crilly, Course Leader 1A Product Design at CUED.

Peter Slater, Costain Aerial Solutions Manager, who attended the event on behalf of the company, added: “The competition blended imagination with technological ingenuity and it was great to hear so many forward thinking ideas from the first year engineering students.”

Costain has identified the university network as an important factor in its Engineering Tomorrow strategy, which aims to identify, develop and implement innovative solutions to meet the UK’s major national infrastructure needs.

Costain has developed a relationship with a select number of universities, which are aligned to its long-term business aspirations. As well as Cambridge, Costain has a strategic relationship with 11 other university partners, including University College London, Cardiff University, Edinburgh University and the University of Sheffield.


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