Opportunity: Student Research Engineers – Collaborative project with Elephant Gin

Elephant-Logo-BWVElephant Gin produces and sells premium, artisan gin. As part of the manufacturing process an employee wraps a length of twine around the neck of the bottle to form a tight cord-wrap. A lead bead is then placed over the two ends and crimped into place. This process is manually intensive and contains no automation. Elephant Gin are looking to expand their operations by supplying new markets; the associated increase in production volume will require a higher level of efficiency to be introduced into the manufacturing process. This project will investigate methods to mechanise this manufacturing process through a creative, managed student project working with Elephant Gin, with the aim of a working prototype to be delivered in time to support Christmas 2018 packaging and shipments.

The Student Research Engineer will be a member of a 6-person team operating in a similar manner to a small consulting company with individual team members taking responsibility for project management, client liaison, technical sub-tasks, etc. The team will liaise with Elephant Gin throughout the project to generate a specification, report on progress, and solicit feedback. The student team will be supported by researchers from Sheffield Robotics, who will provide regular supervision and robotic expertise across the range of required themes, and a research technician, who will provide mechatronic expertise and fabrication support.

The project will produce a prototype system which reduces the manual effort required for the cord-wrap on Elephant Gin’s product.

Anticipated breakdown:

The project will be run in two distinct phases:

  • Phase 1 will run during Semester 2, commencing in April, with students working part-time during term time. This phase of the project will focus on requirements and specification capture, as well as producing initial designs and conducting any small prototyping required to validate design decisions. During this time the team will be expected to communicate frequently with Elephant Gin in order to elicit requirements and understand the manufacturing process. During this time the students are expected will be expected to complete 45 hours (which is approximately 5 hours per week) and there is flexibility during phase 1 how these hours are completed.
  • Phase 2 will run during the summer vacation period, from 11th June until 31st August. During this period the students will work full-time on producing a prototype system based on the work conducted within Phase 1. During this time students are expected to work a nominal 35 hours per week

Student bursary for project: £5,000 per student

Person Specification:

Essential requirements:

  • Excellent organisational skills, with the ability to plan and prioritise workload, and demonstrable ability to meet deadlines.
  • Excellent communications skills, both verbal and written, and the ability to present clear and concise information.
  • Ability to work with people at all levels within an organisation.
  • Ability to quickly learn new software applications.
  • Excellent abilities working within a team, managing personal time and actively contributing to group projects.
  • Entrepreneurial drive, initiative, and excellent professionalism.

Desirable requirements (applicants are not required to have expertise in all areas):

  • Experience designing and building electromechanical systems.
  • Experience with programming and debugging embedded systems.
  • Experience designing and troubleshooting electronic & electrical circuits.
  • 3D modelling/CAD expertise.
  • Rapid prototyping expertise – 3D printing, CNC machining, PCB fabrication & population, any other applicable practical skills.
  • Experience with system design, integration and testing.
  • Experience programming in C/C++/Python or similar.

Closing date for applications: 3rd April

For further details and to apply please contact:
Dr Jonathan Aitken (jonathan.aitken@sheffield.ac.uk) or
Dr James Law (j.law@sheffield.ac.uk)


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