Devendree Karuppanan, Cyber Junkyard project manager at Siemens Automation & Drives (A&D), says applications from Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries as well as from tertiary institutions in South Africa significantly outnumbered the places available. "We have grown to the point where everyone wants to participate, and while we would like to accommodate everybody, financially and logistically it simply is not possible," she says. "In an attempt to select only the best of the engineering talent, we took a different approach this year and invited interested parties to submit a 'tender' in response to a project specification that details the project brief, design considerations, project outcomes and research into the concepts that the current project would be tackling."
Sponsored by Siemens A&D, Festo, Siemens Flender and Siemens Fujitsu, Cyber Junkyard's main objective is to prepare the young engineers entering industry by presenting them with real life applications - only on a slightly smaller scale. With this in mind, the tertiary institutions are treated as project houses or System Integrators and were invited to respond to a tender enquiry that outlined the 2007 project. The quality of these tender responses determined the final participants from an academic point of view.
"In addition to the tender response, other criteria taken into account included the academic level of each member of the team as well as the demographics of the team in an attempt to create as level a playing field as possible," says Karuppanan. "It is important that the finalists of Cyber Junkyard represent the engineering workforce entering industry at this stage, including adequate representation of females and previously disadvantaged students. The involvement of the actual institution in terms of both financial and academic support is also considered."
A final list of 13 institutions was chosen, of which 10 are from South Africa and one each from Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia. The successful South African participants are the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the Tshwane University of Technology (Witbank Campus), the Tshwane University of Technology (Pretoria Campus), the University Of Johannesburg, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, the University of the Witwatersrand, the Central University of Technology (Free State), North West University and Mangosuthu Technikon. Participants from the SADC region are the Namibian Institute of Mining & Technology, Zimbabwe's National University of Science and Technology, and Zambia's Copperbelt University.
Each year the project concept is selected based on industry trends and needs. With the huge energy shortages facing the country, the 2007 project aims to tackle this by focusing the efforts of the countries' best engineers on energy-saving concepts, including efficiency and demand side management.
For Cyber Junkyard 2007, participating teams are required to construct and control an efficient yet simplistic pilot plant to demonstrate energy efficient process automation in a simple fluid pumping application. The pilot plant design will expose participants to - and highlight - amongst others, energy saving, motor efficiency, process automation, totally integrated automation, totally integrated power, plant design, scale model building, recipe following, data analysis, modular mechanical design, fluid dynamics and demand side management.
The thousands of Rands worth of equipment to be used in the construction of the process plant is sponsored by Siemens and Festo and was selected in consultation with the relevant products specialists to ensure that the best or most efficient device was selected for the specific applications.
"In order to keep a level field and maintain the prestige associated with Cyber Junkyard, all participants are given a uniform space to showcase their projects and there is also tight control over maintaining project standards and minimum design considerations," says Karuppanan.
Understanding that the students participating in the competition have little or no exposure to industry, each participating institution has been teamed up with one of Siemens' preferred systems integrators that supports the institution from a consultative point of view. The 2007 system integrators filling a mentorship role to the institutions include Abacus Automation, IPM Engineering, EM Systems, Civet Engineering, Prime Instrumentation, Abacus, SAR, Simotech, Systems Automation and Management, VESVEC, IAECC and JVS Automation (Zimbabwe)
Siemens, as the sponsor of the final event, will host the participating institutions and judges as delegates during the annual Siemens TIA user Forum at the Birchwood Conference Centre in Johannesburg from 22 to 24 October 2007. Teams will be allowed to showcase their completed projects to more than 600 delegates, including many high ranking dignitaries who will be attending the conference.
Following judging by the Da Vinci Institute and other industry specialists, the winners will be announced at a special gala event on 23 October 2007. Judging will focus on best programming and engineering practices, safety in design, ergonomics, portability, lowest absolute energy consumption, greatest efficiency, most optimal load scheduling and innovation. "There will also be special awards for innovation, which makes up 25% of the judging criteria, so if a team has some bright ideas, this is the opportunity to showcase them. It could be what gives that institution their winning edge," Karuppanan concludes.
For more information contact Jose Machado, Siemens Southern Africa, +27 (0)11 652 2000.
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