The Art of Warman


Flinders University has finished first and second in the covid-adjusted South Australian version of the Warman Design and Build Competition held at Tonsley, Friday October 1st. 

The competition, which has been running since 1988, challenges students to work in teams to build a device to complete a specific automated challenge, then have the device perform under the pressure of competition and the gaze of judges. Traditionally, universities enter teams in a local event, with the best of the best earning their way to Sydney for the final. 

Former competitor CSE Research Associate Robert (Robbie) Trott has been heavily involved in the competition for some time, assisting the Flinders entries in past years. “The Warman Design and Build Competition is an annual event usually held in Sydney that gathers 2nd and 3rd year Mechanical Engineering students to develop an engineering solution for the fictitious people of Gondwana whose planet is ravaged by natural and anthropometric disasters. Each year’s challenge is to build a prototype system to fix a different problem.” 

After being cancelled last year, the national competition faced the same fate in 2021. Robbie saw an opportunity to keep the experience alive for students – at least at a local level.  

“Knowing the National Competition was going to be cancelled for a second year was devastating. The National Competition has a great energy and it is fantastic to see all the different ways teams solved the same problem. There’s also is a great camaraderie between teams. The team that represents the University at the National Competition has to dig deep to show off their best and without the Competition there is a missed opportunity to develop important skills.” 

“When the National Competition was cancelled the organizers polled universities on their capacity to hold local events, my hand shot up and we were fortunate enough to be able to host the event.” 

With that, a local competition was able to go ahead, with two teams representing each of Flinders University, The University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia. Students experienced the challenges, camaraderie, pressure, highs and lows that come with the Warman territory.  

“The Event was awesome. We had enthusiastic students and we were able to hold an event as authentic as possible to the National Competition. Students were able to network with our judges that were representing different industries and even got in and helped each other out when things weren’t working as planned. In the Heats when the teams were competing the excitement was real and most of the audience were holding their breath!” 

At the end of the day, it was a Flinders quinella – a very satisfying result for Robbie and the teams in the Fearless yellow t-shirts. 

“It is great seeing the Flinders’ teams do so well, they worked so hard and put in so much extracurricular time into designing and building their devices and it is good to see that hard work pay off. We have some really promising future Engineers on our hands. I have been mentoring our teams since 2018 and each year we manage to improve on the excellent standards of the previous year and it is good to have the experience of the previous years successes and lessons on hand for next year. Fingers crossed.” 

Hopefully, life is back to full Warman levels in 2022. Meanwhile, the OCME team were covering all the action of gameday, expect a video soon. 

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