Swinburne students shortlisted for James Dyson award

Friday 8 September 2017

The utility barrow in a flooded street.

The ‘Utility Barrow’ has been designed for use in flood prone areas and will be judged by an international panel

In summary

  • Two Swinburne teams to face international judging panel for James Dyson award
  • Utility Barrow is a life-saving redesign of the wheelbarrow
  • Meridian Portable Toilet Solution is a squatting toilet designed for use in disaster situations 

Two Swinburne teams will face the international judging panel of the prestigious James Dyson Award design competition.

The teams of product design engineering students have been shortlisted by the awards and are in the running to win the $8,000 international runner-up prize to be announced 26 October.

They will compete with other university teams from around the globe in the fields of engineering, product design and industrial design.

“Both designs are shining examples of the way that technical engineering and human centred design can be combined to produce innovative products that have global impact for people in need,” says Swinburne product design engineering unit convenor, Dr Charles Ranscombe.

Lifesaving wheelbarrow

Developed by students Lachlan Meadows and Hugh McKay, the ‘Utility Barrow’ can be used as a traditional wheelbarrow, as a boat capable of carrying up to 300kg through floodwaters and as a market stall.

The Swinburne duo developed the final concept after working through several ideas such as a wheelbarrow for cleaning-up mud and one for helping people get out of dangerous areas.

lifesaving wheelbarrow concept in three positions

The ‘Utility Barrow’ design includes:

  • a heavy wheel at the front of the wheelbarrow to balance the weight of a person sitting on its rear seat
  • rings on the side to hold poles in place to turn it into a market stall

Co-creator Lachlan Meadows says the recognition has been “unbelievable” and they are now looking to where they can take the ‘Utility Barrow’ design in the future.

Lachlan meadows and Hugh McKay
Lachlan Meadows and Hugh McKay

“Our plans would be to further refine the design for optimal production, and partner with an aid agency who could purchase this product and provide to communities in need,” he says.

A portable toilet solution

The Meridian Portable Toilet Solution (PTS) is a squatting toilet designed for regions in Asia.

“During flood and emergency situations, access to adequate sanitation can be very limited,” says team member, Andrew Steed.

“So we designed the PTS to be a low-cost squatting toilet that is easy to ship and can be quickly assembled or removed.”

Portable Toilet System render

The PTS diverts the liquid and solid waste to reduce the odour released. The split system also aids in the removal of the solid and liquid waste, each waste can be disposed of separately when at max capacity.

During research, the team discovered that only 4% of residents in Jakarta have access to adequate sanitation year round.

To overcome issues related to flooding, the design of the product focused on three areas: to be low cost, easy to use, and be easily deployable.

Andrew Steed, Nathanael OH and Therese McArthur
Nathanael OH, Andrew Steed and Therese McArthur

James Dyson award

The James Dyson Award runs in 23 countries and is open is open to university level students (and recent graduates) studying product design, industrial design and engineering.

The award encourages ideas that challenge convention, lean engineering, less is more and design with the environment in mind.

A national winner is selected for every country the award runs in, before going through to the final phase where the international winner is chosen by James Dyson.

The award is run by the James Dyson Foundation, a registered charity set up in 2002 which exists to inspire and support the next generation of engineers.