It is definitely not creativity that modern society lacks. Wherever we go we may come across something really surprising. The same goes for all sorts of competitions and contests. It comes as no shock to anyone that we can compete not only in the field of sports. But the Polish National Hand Soldering Championship comes as a surprise! Fortunately, there are students at the Warsaw University of Technology raring to take up such bizarre challenges.
As many as 50 participants from all over Poland competed in the First Polish National Hand Soldering Championship in the category “Students and Learners”. There was also a very strong team from the Warsaw University of Technology – 13 people from various faculties! What did the untypical competition look like and where on earth did they get the idea to participate in it in the first place? I just had to find this out and tell you all about it!
We’re after competitors from universities of technology
A Friday afternoon, students are ecstatic to be able to take a break from studying and most of them are in a big hurry to leave their buildings. Most, but not all of them! Michał Tymosiuk, Mikołaj Marcinkiewicz and Mateusz Mróz – students at the Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering active in student research clubs are going to their workshops to work on collective designs which involve soldering, milling –simply mind-blowing! But they also like talking about their activities.
It was on Facebook that Michał – a member of the Student Vehicle Aerodynamics Research Club (SKAP) – found out about the planned soldering competition. Mikołaj and Mateusz – members of the Robotics Research Club (KNR) – got an email intended for the whole club. It did not take them long to make a decision – a perfect opportunity to work on professional and expensive soldering stations came knocking, not to mention the possibility of winning equipment for themselves and the added advantage of no qualifying rounds (rule “first come first served” applied) – all that provided tremendous motivation to the lads.
What does a soldering competition look like?
This untypical competition for students took place on 1 March 2016 during Automaticon – a fair held in Warsaw’s EXPO XXI Exhibition Centre. At the first stage, all participants were divided into 5 groups, 10 persons each. The stands that had been prepared for the purposes of competing included among other things a soldering station, fume extractor, magnifying glass with light and other indispensable tools and elements – the lads were really impressed! The competitors had 45 minutes to solder a light line circuit board. The elements of the circuit board were quite a difficulty as half of them were of the through-hole type, the other half were directly mounted on the surface and soldered (Surface Mount Device). What is interesting – the length of time needed for performing the task was not important! It was the quality and effectiveness of the circuit board performed that was essential for the judges, but they also rated the preparation of the work station, safety and security in the process of soldering, the production of the circuit board itself and its aesthetics. All parts of the competition and even the way in which the products were given scores complied with EU guidelines and directives – full professionalism!
Out of the three daredevils only Michał from SKAP managed to get to the finals. By his own admission, the final task was much more difficult due to a large number and size of elements to be soldered. Some of them required the use of a magnifying glass. On this occasion the circuit board was to be composed of parts mounted on the surface, including a fairly complex system of diodes, and the time allocated for this task was 60 minutes only. The result was assessed using the same principles as at the first stage. All in all, our finalist was seventh – a lucky number.
Was it worth it?
All the three students absolutely agree on this – participation in the competition was a thing worth doing and they are keen to take part in the next edition. They have several reasons, one of them being that they were able to prove themselves on one of the best soldering stations on the market! When working in their own workshops, most of the time they use only basic tools and devices as their student budget is quite a limitation. They are dreaming about such championships at the Warsaw University of Technology. Who knows, maybe we will hear about that kind of event planned for the near future?
Passion is everything!
The lads are regular students, but they do not mind spending their free time with friends in research clubs. They implement lots of excellent projects, take part in various competitions, even those on a global scale! Michał and SKAP are preparing for the Le Mans Challenger competition to take place in May and then for the London Shell Eco Marathon to be held during the holiday break. The team will compete in the category of super-economic vehicles: at the moment they are working on a city vehicle called PAKS and the second edition of the already hugely popular Kropelka [drop]. Mikołaj and Mateusz from KNR are working on mobile robot designs. Their workshop is crammed with electronic gems! Progressive robots, balancing robots, micromouse, mobile platforms – everything there has been given a name.
We are bound to hear about the lads and the achievements of their research clubs. And here is a hint for those who do not yet know how to benefit from their study period – try your hand at working in research clubs and student organisations – they are places where great things happen.
Event photogallery on the organiser’s website