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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

The Davidson Inventors Challenge

The Davidson Inventors Challenge (DIC) is a new project being piloted with UK schools during this academic year. This new initiative is a collaboration between our department and the Association of Science Technology and Innovation (ASTI) in Malaysia led by one of our alumni Dr Yunus Yasin.

It is aimed at young students interested in STEM in tribute to our Emeritus Professor John Davidson, and former Head of Department, who sadly passed away last December. He was known as “the founding father of fluidisation” and worked in chemical engineering since 1952, including the areas of fluid flow, process dynamics, gas absorption and fluidisation technology, remaining very active until his death. He was passionate about his students, interested in their well-being and enjoyed their questions. He was always committed to the very highest standards of teaching and research and often had simple solutions relying on a profound understanding of the fundamentals. 

Download the DIC poster here.

DIC aims: Choose a challenge and find a solution to put chemical engineering skills into practice 

We are deeply concerned with the effects of COVID-19 on education and we are aware of students' need to continue learning whilst ensuring their safety and wellbeing.  Therefore, this challenge is an opportunity for 14 to 17 year-old  students in the UK to enter this competition as a team (3 to 5 students), think of a problem and evaluate innovative solutions to current-day global challenges. We welcome entries from students in all UK schools, especially state schools and those with students from disadvantaged and lower-income backgrounds.

Get ready to solve problems, get creative and innovate! 

To take part in the challenge interested students will have a go at problem-solving and come up with innovative solutions, which are key skills chemical engineers learn, develop, and put into practice on a day-to-day basis. In this way, they will not only get first-hand experience and become familiar with the diverse applications of chemical engineering and biotechnology, but they will also learn about the important role chemical engineers and biotechnologists play in tackling the toughest global challenges.

DIC theme: Sustainable Development Goals

The theme for DIC Invention is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) developed by the United Nations to address global challenges as noted in the SDGs strategy. The teams are therefore required to first select a goal they'd like to work on and come up with a potential solution towards achieving the selected SDG.

Register your interest: Get ready to problem-solve and innovate!

To take part in this fun and exciting team challenge, in the first instance, student teams in interested schools need to complete and submit the registration form for each and every student team they wish to enter. Register your interest here.

Upon registration teams will receive a brief and further guidance.

Further details: entry criteria and submission

Each participating student team is expected to research the SDGs, then select one or more global challenges. Overall, the teams are required to evaluate a problem and invent a solution that could support the ambition behind one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), for example help provide low cost clean water or allow the logistics of COVID-19 sample collection to be improved. This could be in the form of an innovative product or process. 

  • DIC opens for registrations: 16 November 2020.
  • Entry criteria:  Students aged 14 to 17 enter as a team (3 to 5 students) based in the UK. We especially welcome entries from UK state schools and underprivileged and underrepresented backgrounds. Each competing student team will be required to: 
  1. register their interest by submitting the online registration form by 18 January 2021.
  2. submit a short paper addressing the problem and evaluating the potential solution/s by 19 April 2021.

This first DIC will then be conducted as an online competition involving a submission of a short paper based on the student participants’ analysis of a problem and proposed solution. If your proposed solution also involves a working prototype and/or a working scaled model, you may describe also it in your paper.

  • Deadline for student project submissions: 19 April 2021

    The three finalist student teams will be invited to take part in a Zoom webinar to give our department staff and students a live online presentation of their inventions. The judging panel at CEB will then appoint a winner.

  • Prize: The winning student team will be awarded a certificate by the President of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) and will also be given a personalised trophey. The winners and their class, accompanied by their teacher, will also be treated to a special virtual tour of the facilities at the company Amazon. At a later stage in the summer they will also be invited to come to Cambridge for a 'special suprise' reception and get to spend an afternoon in our department (with covid-19 restrictions and social distancing likely to be in place!). They will then get an opportunity to meet and talk to some of our lecturers and students and get a taste of what studying chemical engineering and biotechnology at Cambridge is really like. 

For queries regarding student participation and entry submission please contact Elena Gonzalez, Marketing and Outreach Assistant 

Monday, 18 January, 2021 - 17:00
Event location: 
Online - a brief and further guidance will be sent out to registered student teams