Levitating Alien Head

Tue, July 05, 2016

Three students on the HNC level 4 engineering qualification at PROCAT exceeded expectations in their final project as they designed and built a device to levitate objects.

James Hobday, Tim Robinson and Dylan Murphy, presented their work to their tutor, peers and employers last week. Using their knowledge and skills in different disciplines of engineering combined with excellent teamwork and planning, they created an exceptional final project for their course.

James, Tim and Dylan were originally set a task to make an object levitate for one minute but the trio had plans going beyond this. After researching the project and the best way to proceed, they decided to use magnetic levitation to suspend an object in mid-air with no support. To make this more challenging, they decided to design a device with the intention of being able to dual levitate more than one object.

Having completed the initial research, the three proceeded to consider their project in great detail. They decided to give it a space theme to give it a gimmick as they could not find a similar idea on the current market. The aesthetics of the device were carefully thought about and most of the resources available to the students were used on this, with the materials being sourced from their companies or the college.

James, who is a Design Engineer at Impossible Creations was responsible for the SolidWorks design of the whole project and created the designs that the team worked from. He also used 3D printing to create many of the parts and aesthetics for the project, including the head the alien that was levitated.


Tim, an Electrical Engineer for Qinetiq focused on the electrical design and build for magnetic levitation boards, coil windings, LED display board and Raspberry Pi programming. He had little prior experience with programming and had to pick this up as part of the project.

Dylan, who works for Shakespeare Engineering as a Mechanical Engineer took ownership of the mechanical build of the entire frame, and support for overall design and assembly. He did this from scratch and had to adjust his design to fit with the electrical build.

James, Tim and Dylan worked together throughout the project to ensure that all of the parts that they were responsible for came together as they should. They overcame several problems and difficulties so that despite not being able to get both magnets to levitate simultaneously, they produced a project to be proud of.

Course tutor Laurence Roberts said "James, Dylan and Tim produced an exceptional piece of engineering for their final year project, by bringing together their individual skills and knowledge that they have learnt from the HNC course and their industry jobs.  This is a prime example of advanced engineering here at the college."

Higher level courses (HNC/D) and apprenticeships at PROCAT are growing very quickly. If you are interested in learning about advanced technology and would like to work on similar projects to Tim, James and Dylan, then apply now or contact us on 0800 389 3589 for more information about our courses.