The multinational team "CoZ" from the University of Queensland, Australia, were awarded the winning prize in June 2009. Their project focused on the use of a pioneering natural fibre composite - made from castor plants - in aircraft cabins.
Alex Ching-Tai NG
I found out about Fly Your Ideas from my PhD advisor while a second year PhD student in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Queensland. The thing I enjoyed the most was working with my team to develop something from scratch and seeing our idea become a real product and its potential to be applied to the industry.
The most memorable experience was presenting our idea to the selection panel in Paris, which was made up of international experts from the aviation industry.
The most challenging part was working out how our studies could be applied to the competition. After we identified our project, the timing was the next toughest challenge as we needed to complete the project in a short timeframe, which included sourcing the Castor plant, harvesting the plants, turning the plant into fibre, manufacturing the bio-based fibre composite panels and then finally testing their engineering properties.
The most unexpected thing was the outcome of the competition: in addition to actually winning, our idea became an on-going project between the university and Airbus. After the competition, I was better able to identify the important issues or topics within the industry, such as the environmental issues related to aviation. This is important in my career, especially as a researcher who is required to develop something beneficial for the human race.
My advice for students taking part in Fly Your Ideas would be not to under estimate yourself. If you have a great idea, you can make it a reality through the competition. The engineers at Airbus are good at identifying the best ideas and the mentoring staff are there to help you.