The thrill of problems solving
Alan Khudur balances high up on a ladder and steadies the bucket so that Karl Nyman does not get water on his head as he sits, curled up under the ladder, stopping up the water flow to the turbine. Before he releases the water he checks that Berina Fazlagic is ready with the stopwatch. They have carried out many tests in order to reach their goal.
“We hoped for a one percent degree of efficiency, however with 0.68 percent we have achieved our goal very well. We really did not want to land at 0.25 percent like the project group two years ago,” states Berina
Fazlagic, first year student on the electrical engineering programme, and the other five students agree with a laugh.
Their prototype hydroelectric power station is a first glimpse of reality. They decided early on to aim high and built up a two and a half meter high scaffolding framework to see whether height would produce a higher degree of efficiency than previous projects. With a budget of only SEK 1 000 their goal has forced them into a number of innovative solutions. Pierced bowls, hoses and lots of duct tape.
“A large scale hydroelectric power plant has a 95 percent degree of efficiency,” says Karl Nyman and smiles. “This more concerns solving problems together and learning to
For four weeks all the first-year students have been working with their projects in the School’s different labs, on everything from adjustable brakes for an exercise bike and permanent magnet-based fixing device for a mechanical manoeuvre arm to building of segways for racing. These projects will be presented and graded at the Electroexhibition that is held every year.
“The actual construction has been the most fun as it needed the least amount of paperwork. It is a considerable change from just carrying out calculations,” asserts Martin Wiorek, who is the construction engineer of the project.
“With our various roles well-defined there haven’t been that many conflicts, well small ones but we have settled them all,” says Alan Khudur, the calculations officer of the project. “Conflicts are good too,” fills in Martin Wiorek. “That’s when you learn to communicate better.”
As the only girl in the group Berina Fazlagic has learned to assert herself. When she first came to KTH she was still very shy. Project work has given her more tools to use to become a professional and communicative
“Here in my programme I can be myself. Now I dare to get to know myself and at the same time receive confirmation of my identity. Here I am accepted for my opinions. This became clear during the project work when we did have very different opinions but we finally arrived at a joint
solution. We have all learned a lot from this.”
Another try. Alan Khudur is up at the top of the ladder again with the bucket of water. Karl has problems getting the rotation of the turbine to work properly and is doing some quick fixing.
“The speed of the turbine must be even as it determines the power that is extracted,” explains Karl Nyman.
Berina Fazlagic didn’t realise that Karl Nyman had started the test and allows the water through the turbine. Two seconds missed – nothing to do but to do it again!