RAF Engineering Competition winner - Chief Tech Dan Hardwick

Dan sits in-front of desktop webcam.

RAF STEM Ambassadors, Chief Tech Dan Hardwick has won the RAF Engineering Competition (Whole Force) for 2019 with his Portable Obstruction Detector ‘POD’ design.

The Competition aims to encourage a widespread interest in engineering across the Whole Force and to inspire people of all ages to get involved in Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM).

Teams and individuals are invited to design an engineering solution relating to air and space activities, or the applications and processes that support them.  This also extends across the range of ways the RAF delivers its outputs in any aspect of Flying, Engineering, Logistics and/or People.  Chief Tech Hardwick’s design aims to reduce aircraft ground handling collisions, by providing a visual and audible warning to engineer handling teams. 

Poster for the competition with graphics

The Portable Obstruction Detector is placed on an aircraft’s extremities (such as its wing or rotor) and feeds to a central warning unit under the towed tractor; this senses obstructions and provides instant feedback to the tractor operator which halts ground movement to avoid collisions.

Following progression to Phase 2, Chief Tech Hardwick set about concept refinement and production of a fully function prototype; working from home 3D printing, scratch coding on a Microbit and Python coding on a Raspberry Pi he managed to build a working example that was successful on testing. 

The overall Competition culminated in a virtual final on the 7th February 2022.  Chief Tech Hardwick competed against 2 other finalists in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitch to a panel of expert judges drawn from 1* Service and Civilian Engineering specialists.

Congratulations Dan!

Read more about STEM and find resources here.