In 2011, as part of their sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Rio Tinto entered into a partnership with Imperial College London to create a curriculum based flagship project challenging engineering students to design, build and implement Paralympic sporting equipment. The Sports Innovation Challenge continues to provide students with real world engineering problems, the overall aim being to make a tangible contribution to disability sports and to promote healthy lifestyles for people with disabilities.
The Challenge has been integrated into the existing curriculum for engineering students at Imperial College London, from 2nd year design courses through to final year and MSc course projects. Project topics are offered to students which have a Paralympic or Disability Sports theme and which may receive additional support through the initiative.
Lectures and workshops are organised each year with external speakers that include elite athletes, sports technicians and industry professionals. In addition to providing specialist knowledge, the purpose of these events is to promote interaction between the departments at both student and academic level. Many of the projects require a range of skills from different departments and provide opportunities for collaboration across the Faculty of Engineering.
As part of the Innovation Design Engineering course (jointly run by the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London) we also run an intensive project as part of the Challenge that requires students to generate novel solutions for people with disabilities.
Additional projects associated with the Adaptive Sports are run during the summer months under the UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme) scheme.
Finally, a showcasing event will take place at the end of the summer term for students to exhibit the projects and compete against each other for prizes and additional support to take their projects further.