Detecting watermelon ripeness, 3D printed prostheses and window washing drones: engineering and IT students showcase their futuristic innovations

Image of Michael Naughtin and Matt Collinson shaking hands while wearing their prosthetic hands.
Michael Naughtin and Matt Collinson with their 3D printed prosthetic hands.

Have you ever seen a drone autonomously washing the windows on a skyscraper? A sensor detecting the peak ripeness of a watermelon? A child receiving a new 3D-printed hand as they grow and develop?

These are just three of the 130 projects conceptualised, designed and built this year by engineering and IT masters students at the University of Melbourne.

Melbourne School of Engineering students showcased their diverse and impressive creations today as a culmination of their year's work in an exhibition called Endeavour.

The exhibition included projects from biomedical, electrical, civil, software and mechanical engineering to highlight the real-world impact of teaching and learning at the University.

Melbourne School of Engineering Dean Mark Cassidy said: “It’s fantastic to see the breadth of innovation within our engineering and IT masters student cohort and the truly futuristic projects they’ve brought to life throughout 2018.”

Engineering and IT at the University of Melbourne has a proud legacy of delivering life-altering creations such as the Cochlear implant to eliminate preventable deafness by Professor Graeme Clark and everyday inventions like the paint colour detector developed by University alumni Paul Peng.

Ed James from the window washing drones student team said: “We’re not building on from something that already exists, but instead designing all the systems from scratch ourselves. This has definitely been a challenge for us!”


  1. Window washing drones to deliver a safer window washing system that can withstand high winds with a view to eventually operating the drones as a swarm to rapidly clean a building.
  2. Watermelon ripeness: Using a combination of sensors, single-board computers and deep neural networks, this project automatically determines the ripeness probability of watermelon fruit, based on data collected from an operational watermelon farm, with the aim of reducing wastage and providing an easier method for pickers to identify melons correctly. This is an Industry Partnered project, with Daintree Fresh Pty Ltd.
  3. Respiratory support for pre-term babies: biomedical engineering students have developed of a non-invasive device to enable the delivery of optimal air pressure to the lungs of premature babies, without 'leakage'.
  4. 3D printed prostheses: working alongside charity Robohand Australia, this team has brought together software and 3D printing expertise to deliver cheaper and more accessible options for prostheses, particularly beneficial for children during periods of peak development and growth when resized prostheses are needed.
  5. Monitoring intercranial pressure without surgery: multidisciplinary team of biomedical engineering and MBA students working to develop a device that can measure pressure inside the skull without invasive and risky brain surgery.