Second year Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical and Electronics) (Honours) student Nguyen Phuong Duy wants to bring 3D printing to Vietnamese students everywhere.
“My vision is to create a 3D printer that is efficient enough to potentially build a set of complex objects, and apply this technology to the high schools and universities of Vietnam,” said Duy at RMIT Vietnam’s Career Week and Technology Showcase held at the University’s Saigon South campus in September.
“Right now,” Duy explained, “3D printing is expensive in Vietnam.”
“It’s a service. But with my prototype, I can deliver a more cost effective means of learning to students.
“For example, everything that I used to build my printer is available in Vietnam, making it much cheaper than current imported models. The parts that I could not find, I reproduced myself.”
Utilising that very 3D printer, building three-dimensional parts from files created in design software like CAD, Duy and his project team have built a lightweight, self-righting quadcopter from scratch, capable of up to 50 minutes of flight time, and of carrying loads of up to 1kg.
Challenged to create a system, rather than a one-off quadcopter, the project is about delivering on what RMIT Vietnam Senior Lecturer of Engineering Dr Jaideep Chandran calls ‘open ended problems’, supplying students with the technical skills, and then allowing them to apply engineering without a prescribed notion of what a solution has to look like.
“The aim of the project was not to create a quadcopter, but to build up a system that uses our specific algorithm in maintaining something else,” explained Duy.
“In this case, it was the “PID” control, (a proportional-integral-derivative controller) which allows the quadcopter to automatically sense its environment and respond to it based on the parameters our coding gives it.”
At the moment this extends to allowing the machine to recalibrate on its own, delivering power to each of the four rotors as needed. In the future, Duy wants the machine to become completely autonomous, and follow coded instructions without human supervision.
Eyeing practical applications around traffic control and the efficient delivery of all manner of goods (the likes of Amazon and Domino’s are already trialling the concept), Duy, who is currently interning at National Instruments, is excited by the technology’s implications.
The Head of RMIT Vietnam’s Centre of Technology Professor Alex Stojcevski is also enthusiastic, and said it was testament to the opportunity Vietnam has over the next 10-25 years.
“In my opinion it’s the time to be in Vietnam when it comes to technology,” he said.
“When you’ve got some of the biggest tech companies in the world relocating here, it’s a huge sign of what’s going to happen.
“The work of students like Duy reflects the very idea behind the Centre of Technology, which is about the analytical thinking, and bringing theory and practice together.”
Attend the Technlogy Experience Day on Sunday 16 October to see more creative and innovative work by RMIT Vietnam students.
Story: Jon Aspin