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UCT Student Wins Global Challenge

  • 4 min read

Electrocomponents plc (LSE: ECM), a global omni channel provider of product and service solutions, has announced the winners of the People.Planet.Product student design challenge launched early last year in collaboration with the company’s first global social enterprise partner, The Washing Machine Project, a humanitarian initiative dedicated to alleviating the burden of hand washing in low-income and displaced communities, through innovative product design and distribution.

The three winning designs which were selected from six global finalists in first, second and third place were Kai Goodall, Team Scentury and Joseph Baker respectively. The challenge tasked student members of the DesignSpark engineering community to apply original thinking and practical skills to the ongoing development of The Washing Machine Project’s first water-saving off-grid manual crank-handle washing machine, the Divya. Entries were invited in three different focus areas: People (empower people to use the Divya by improving the technology or implementation of the design); Planet (filtering out greywater or microplastics); Product (encourage better posture through changes in weight, portability, for example).

South African winner Kai Goodall’s ‘Pedal n Spin’ design is a foot-cranked washing machine that rotates easily using a combination of the principle of a treadle system and pedal system. It is a pedal-powered connected rod driven rotating drum washing machine system that is purely mechanical in nature. It improves the user’s posture, ease of use, and sustainability of the current Divya washing machine, allowing longer-term adoption, improved hygiene, and increased rotation efficiency with a huge mechanical advantage.

Kai, currently a master’s student in Electrical Engineering at the University of Cape Town (UCT), mentioned that it has been moving to see that his sustainable and user-friendly washing machine design was selected as one of the winners of the global contest. “My UCT supervisor and chairman of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) South Africa Dr David Oyedokun, inspired me to compete in the RS Components Student Design Challenge and I came out tops with my Pedal n Spin foot-cranked washing machine innovation. Being the sole finalist from Africa in the competition and winning first prize was a special recognition of my invention, and motivates me to take my passion to new frontiers, and hopefully inspire more young people to use engineering as a tool for their progression,” he said.

All six finalists, including Team Oro (Product), Team Neolithic (Product), and Ketki Dave (Planet), pitched their designs at a live virtual event to a panel of judges from leading industry and humanitarian organisations that share the common goal of helping to improve lives. Mike England, Chief Operating Officer at Electrocomponents, opened the finals with a speech about the company’s commitment to ‘Making Amazing Happen For a Better World’ through social impact partners and education programmes. Yewande Akinola MBE, Ambassador for Clean Growth and Infrastructure, UK, delivered a keynote at the event, emphasising the importance of ‘sustainability and innovation for our world’.

Panel judge Navjot Sawhney, Founder of The Washing Machine Project, commented: ‘With the Electrocomponents Grassroots team, The Washing Machine Project devised the People.Planet.Product student design challenge to inspire students with STEM backgrounds to get involved in our humanitarian initiative. These are the scientists, engineers, and mathematicians of tomorrow, and the amazing quality of designs we have seen through this challenge is really heart-warming and proof that the younger generation are fully engaged in playing their part in a sustainable future.”

Fellow judge Mike Bray, VP Innovation and DesignSpark at Electrocomponents, which hosted the challenge, said: “The Washing Machine Project is such a great engineering initiative to help improve people’s lives, and combining this with the inspirational ideas of student engineers through our DesignSpark community we have the ability to work together to truly make a massive difference to people around the world.”

Providing active support for the People.Planet.Product challenge, and completing the line-up of distinguished judges were: Bjoern Klaas, CEO EMEA region, Protolabs; Clare Larkspur, Head of Product Management, Elvie; Simon Wells, VP Engineering, Shark Ninja; and Eleonora Gatti, Innovation Portfolio Manager (WASH + Climate Change), Unicef.

Each of the three winners receives £1000 in RS products or a cash equivalent to support their prototype development, plus access to a business mentor and a knowledge session with The Washing Machine Project founder, Navjot Sawhney.

Kai has recently joined forces with Forest Creations, a sustainable woodworking company, to create four more improved Pedal n Spin units for donation and field testing in Cape Town townships, with a view towards more sustained manufacturing and distribution. “I welcome collaboration and financial support in my bid to roll out many more of these units, to provide a healthy and sustainable innovation to those in need,” he concluded.

For more information, collaboration, or updates on Kai’s Pedal n Spin washing machine innovation please email, connect on LinkedIn: Kai Goodall or follow him on Instagram: @kaigoodall