UniSA team delivers on nuclear design challenge

Students, staff and graduates from UniSA’s Industrial Design program were set a mammoth challenge recently – given a short timeframe to design, create and deliver 15 3D models to be used in one of the largest community consultation programs ever undertaken in South Australia.

UniSA Master of Architecture graduate Simon Modra, who led the project team, likened the task to compacting a full semester of studio into just 20 days.

UniSA project team members Sam Hastie, Ben Kilsby, and Simon Modra with Stephanie Wasley from the Premier’s Department in front of 1:200 double hulled transport ship.UniSA project team members Sam Hastie, Ben Kilsby, and Simon Modra with Stephanie Wasley from the Premier’s Department in front of 1:200 double hulled transport ship.

The end result – three sets of five scale models depicting the nuclear waste disposal process – was actually delivered ahead of schedule and the models are now on display as part of a three-month nuclear engagement program visiting more than 100 sites across the State.

The models were produced on behalf of the State Government’s Know-Nuclear Program for a series of public consultations to educate communities about the Nuclear Fuel Cycle.

Modra says the project was a unique opportunity for students to interact with a real client and realise real designs for a real audience, and the extraordinarily tight deadline meant it was also a real challenge.

The process included researching the disposal of nuclear waste, digitally modelling the designs, sourcing suitable materials and creating the 3D models.

“We were given Friday and the weekend to research and begin digital modelling,” Modra says.

“Using a combination of CAD programs, the units were digitally modelled at a scale negotiated with the client which would best fit in the back of a Mitsubishi Pajero and still allow the public to get a good look at the process.

“The level of quality and workmanship expected for units that will be photographed by the media, shown on TV and toured around the State is far in excess of what might be expected in a studio submission.

“The students weren’t afforded the luxury of mulling over design, and working and re-working it.

“They had to move quickly and nimbly, and most importantly learn that critical moment when the time for thinking about something is over and it’s time to pull the trigger and make it.”

The project was initiated by creative agency KWP! who contacted UniSA’s Industrial Design Program Director Dr Peter Schumacher on behalf of the Government requesting the models be created on short notice.

Dr Schumacher assembled a team led by Simon Modra which included Industrial Design Lecturer Dan Mclean; Design and Construct Program Senior Lecturer David Morris; Bachelor of Design (Product Design) student Ben Kilsby; postgraduate students Sam Hastie and Luca Dichiera; Master of Architecture graduate Brett Abroe; and technical officer David Gordon.

Sam Hastie, who has completed a Bachelor of Design (Product Design) and is now undertaking a Graduate Diploma in Design, was honoured to take part in a project with such a high profile.

“It was a great experience to apply the knowledge and skills I have acquired over the last three years, and to use them in a real world situation,” Sam says.

“The experience was inspiring, gave me confidence in my ability and has confirmed that industrial design is the correct career for me.”

The designs depict an above-ground dry cask storage facility, an example of a nuclear fuel rod, a double-hulled transport ship, nuclear storage canisters and a nuclear transport cask.

Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Consultant and Response Agency Chief Executive Madeline Richardson says the models are on tour as part of the roadshow visiting rural and metropolitan areas as well as remote Aboriginal communities.

“They are supporting the community discussion about the recommendations of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission and topics raised by the Citizens’ Jury,” Richardson says.

She was pleased the models were designed locally and felt that having them made in SA provided a great opportunity for local students.

The University’s huge effort was greatly appreciated by the agency, who were delighted with the end result and have requested UniSA also model an underground geological storage facility.

To see the designs in person, see the full event schedule.