Interview with Biomedical Engineer Mark Jeavons, A Winner in Nottingham Trent University’s Grand Challenge

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Why did you take part in the Grand Challenge? 

It was a great opportunity to work as a team and incorporate our knowledge and skills into a joint project as part of a challenge against other groups from the entire Engineering school.

What three things did you learn from participating in the Grand Challenge? 

1. To believe in yourself – you can do it!

2. Learn to listen to the opinions of others and be prepared to focus on what benefits the team the most.

3. Take time to think through ideas fully to cover the complete design process – you don’t want a fantastic idea but neglect to consider or overlook serious downfalls that may destroy your idea at the end of the project… it’s too late to change the project at the end of the project. From the word ‘go’, you need to think the project through carefully from start to finish or even think backwards from finish to start. 

What elements of the competition did you find most challenging?

My Grand Challenge group worked fantastically together. The seven group members turned took a serious interest in the entire project. Our group selection turned out to be spot on with every member covering their role well. The biggest challenge was toning our idea down and getting everybody focused on the end goal, but we still managed to do this efficiently. Moving from my coursework (which consisted of bioreactors and cell-culturing) to space exploration was also quite a sudden but fun leap for me.

Would you recommend the Grand Challenge to other students/why?

100% yes. It is a great time for growth as a person both academically and professionally.

What were the benefits of taking part? 

 I made some great friends and met some great people. The trade show allowed us to view the other projects and ideas and a great deal can be learnt by a person who observes carefully. Overcoming challenges and observing the difference in ideas really broadens a person’s perspective on what is achievable – this increases confidence whether you win or lose. It also goes onto our portfolio when we graduate which should help towards gaining employment. Furthermore, it creates an opportunity to see how far you have progressed and how much you have learnt during your studies and pushes you further.

How do you think the skills you learned in the Grand Challenge will help you in the future?  

Effective teamwork will surely help in any place of employment. Meeting deadlines under pressure is great practice also. I learned about the importance of correctly scaling CAD models for 3D printing applications – which would save time and money. Listening to group ideas and being adaptable will help with producing relevant work of a high standard which incorporates the overall design concept – this too would benefit a workplace.

Has the experience inspired you to take your business idea further or to develop new ideas?

We have an idea stemming from our design that we would like to design, produce and get to market if it is commercially viable but are unsure of the next step to take. We believe our idea would greatly assist the renewable energy sector.

Will you be taking any further business courses to increase your knowledge of how to bring an idea to market or how to run a business?

Not at the moment – I have 2 years of a degree to finish currently but in future, it is something I would consider should the option become available.