Strathclyde engineers win BP Ultimate Field Trip competition

Émer O’Toole

Engineering students from Strathclyde University last month won BP’s Ultimate Field Trip competition.

Strathclyde’s Team Hydra impressed the judges with their innovation and strong, well-analysed concept. As one of the rewards, they get to visit a BP on-shore control room and spend time with BP engineers.

The Ultimate Field Trip Challenge asks university students to work in teams of three to answer a real life energy challenge with the prize being an international field trip with BP.

This year’s competition had two teams from Strathclyde: Team Hydra made up of Eric Brown, Hugh McQueen and Theo Scott and Team HUNgineers, a mixture of students from Strathclyde University and Glasgow University.

This year’s challenge was to: “Develop a single technical innovation, which has previously not been demonstrated, to significantly reduce the cost of Passenger Kilometres Travelled (PKT) per capita in your country by 2030. Your innovation can focus on one mode of passenger transportation from road, rail, water, or air, or you can use a combination of each. The solution you develop must be technically focused, practical and innovative.”

The winning group, Team Hydra’s proposal is to develop a Hybrid Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) car solution to reduce the cost of PKT in Germany.

Hydra’s Eric Brown, a third year Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering student, said: “Pakistan, India and brazil are the main locations right now. Germany is our target. Our innovation is much cheaper than petrol or diesel, it’s an expanding fuel. There are already 90,000 CNG cars in Germany and 44,000 worldwide; owners will save €1000 a year.”

The judges of this year’s final were David Eyton (Group Head of Technology), Dr Ellen Williams (Chief Scientist), Trevor Garlick (Chief President of BP Overseas) and Dr Angela Strank (Head of Group Chief Executive’s Office).

The team travelled to London for the Grand Final, which took place at the Royal Institution of Great Britain on 8 March. The ceremony was hosted by the comedian Dara Ó Briain, who also moderated the competition. Ó Briain said:

“Innovation and science is the key that unlocks potential in a vast amount of industries, so it should come as no surprise that the skills and abilities of STEM students are in high demand. Science has become cool again and just in time; its importance today is greater than ever before.”

BP is one of the biggest graduate recruiters in the UK and their school links programme was established in 1968. A £4.5 million scholarship was funded for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) students last year.

Dr. Angela Strank said:

“This competition attracts brilliant, enthusiastic, motivated students. It shows the importance of being able to apply scientific engineering excellence the world of today. I’m delighted to be asked to judge this competition. We are 100% committed to tomorrow’s generation. We believe in education and developing talent from school age to university.

“This industry is not for the faint hearted. If you want to see the world and help improve the lives of millions by providing the energy they need, then this is the career for you.”

Team Hydra’s innovation impressed the judges and has many benefits: home production of electricity gives owners fuel security and a “free” fuel for short journeys; home refuelling is convenient and CNG is 55% cheaper than petrol; it is likely to retain this margin into 2030.

Team Captain, Hugh McQueen said: “We never thought we’d get this far in the competition and we are ecstatic to have won. It’s a great stepping stone and we would recommend the competition to anyone.”

Eric Brown added: “Our favourite part of the process was making the film. It was really rewarding to see it as it condensed four months into four minutes.”

Emma Judge, Head of Recruitment at BP spoke about how tough the competition was, commenting: “It was genuinely a difficult decision to make. Team Hydra proposed a great solution for the country they’d chosen and they have been strong throughout the entire competition.”

Runners up, Team HUNgineers made up of Tamás Lukács, András Kovách and Gabor Piukovics said: “When the competition came up we thought that it was a great opportunity and we are glad that we got involved, even though we didn’t win.”

Team Hydra won cameras and travel books as well as a rare opportunity to visit BP’s on-shore control room at Stavanger in Norway and spend time with BP engineers.

Team Hydra would like to give special thanks to their mentors, John Baker and Matt Jones.


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