Dyson calls out for projects from young inventors

Students can have some crazy, curiously interesting ideas, and while these might seem like flights of fancy, some of them might even pay off, especially if they get in the James Dyson Award.

If you’ve never heard of the concept, the James Dyson Award is a student design competition that asks for youth around the world to submit their concepts for inventions that can solve problems, with the best in show winning as much as $55,000 for the inventor student or their team, and an extra $8,000 for the university department they’re working in.

That last part is probably a key indicator, as you’ll need to be a university student to enter, but if you’re already a design or engineering major and you think you’ve come up with a way to make bicycle helmets better, or a form of armour that is lighter and can be made from printable components quickly, or have even come up with a water collection system that works in dry climates like one Australian Dyson Award winner has done in the past — and it is very, very cool — you might want to spend some time and submit the project to the Award.

“Young people have the power to change the world through engineering,” said James Dyson, Founder of Dyson.

“Each year the James Dyson Award sees truly remarkable solutions to real-life problems all approached from different angles. No problem is too big and the simplest solutions are the best – use the award as a stepping stone to take your invention towards commercialisation.”


One concept from a local is already entered this year, with Dyson’s people sending word about a project from Alistair McInnes from RMIT in Melbourne.

This is a wind powered motorcycle, built with a battery that takes its charge from solar energy and wind power. For that last part, when stopped, a wind turbine can be removed from the body of the motorbike and unfolded, charging the motorbike while you’re not there.


It joins a farming gadget from Nicholas Sadowsky from UTS in Sydney which has been designed to help reduce accidents and fatalities from quad bikes, horses, tractors and other forms of transport used on rural land.

The two projects are one of only a few to be submitted by Australian students for this year, and while they both deal with motor vehicles in some form, that’s not the only category students can explore.


Last year’s winner for Australia was a 3D printed artificial reef that could help regenerate ailing reef structures in Australia, inspired by the damage occurring to the Great Barrier Reef.

“After winning the James Dyson Award, we are now building great partnerships with universities around the Great Barrier Reef and hope to be testing the effectiveness of 3D printed sandstone for coral transplanting this year,” said Alex Goad, the winner of the Dyson Award for 2014 in Australia specifically.


It wasn’t enough to take out the total international prize, however, which was given to a student in the UK who built a portable incubator called “MOM” (pictured above with James Dyson), that wasn’t just inexpensive to produce at $500 AUD, but was also inflatable, making it easy to take out and setup in times of crisis.

“Entering the James Dyson Award put MOM in the international spotlight,” said the inventor, James Roberts. “The public response and support was incredible, creating huge momentum towards commercialisation. I’m now further developing MOM, and hope to have it in production soon.”


Around the world, only 20 countries enter the Dyson Award, with Australia being among them. Hong Kong and Taiwan have been added this year, however, so there should be more competition.

Australians have until July 2 to get their entries in, however, with the winner set to be announced in November.