...exciting things start to happen. A new student organisation, MTÜ Teadusklubi, was born at TalTech in the autumn, with the aim of doing real things for the simple joy of doing, based on the knowledge learned at university.
Kätlin Sonk | Photos: Rainer Oras
It all started at Solaride when Andres Nöps, captain of the electronics team there, was inspired to create something similar himself. He wanted to create something that would be more accessible to the wider public and that would give pleasure to the makers, but also be practical. ‘We shouldn’t produce anything unnecessary for this world,’ explains Nöps. This is how the MTÜ Teadusklubi and their first project Ray Foil was born.
Ray Foil is a motorised SUP board that took the young members of Teadusklubi to the top 20 of the TV show Ajujaht. However, the objective of Teadusklubi is broader than Ray Foil. Once this project has reached its natural end, there will be another and then another...
After communicating with different companies, the members of Teadusklubi came up with the idea of establishing cooperation between MTÜ Teadusklubi and the private sector. ‘If a company needs to develop a small component in their production, they could turn to engineering students and let these young people do it,’ says Andres Nöps, adding that it would be good for everyone if a student who has graduated from a university has real experience in creating something from input to implementation in addition to theoretical knowledge.
‘There are small businesses in Estonia, that are happy to share advice and guidance when you approach them,’ says Nöps enthusiastically. However, he recalls one company that initially believed that it should not help students so much. ‘After all, they have been learning their craft for a long time; why should they tell us the answer right away? Nevertheless, they started quietly instructing our young people after a while on how to do hydrodynamics as well as possible,’ says Nöps.
Teadusklubi also wants to get students interested in engineering. Particularly, create the type of interest that allows them to make better connections between theory and practice in classroom. They want to show students – and pupils, because the youth involved in the project are not just students – how vague theories they learn at school can be used in practice. At that, the specialisation of the members of Teadusklubi is not important. Nöpsi’s experience at Solaride has shown that his specialisation at the university does not determine his role in a team with good synergy.
Another thing that is important at Teadusklubi is the team. ‘We want to achieve a wide range of competencies,’ explains Nöps. ‘We talk about product development, programming, all sorts of different areas, as well as marketing. When there are many of us and we have different skills in the team, then we can get things done quickly and the result is much better.’ For example, Teadusklubi is collaborating with a marine navigation student from Estonian Maritime Academy, whose technical knowledge and experience have proven very useful in building Ray Foil.
The young members of Teadusklubi are convinced that the best way to create something is through good emotions when there is no tension and no stress. Teadusklubi aims to create a safe environment for everyone to open up and discover what they do best. When you are open, you are capable of anything.
‘We went SUP boarding once and a friend told to me stop fooling around with that board and to grab the rope, he would tow me with his boat,’ explains Nöps. ‘That feeling when I was behind the motorboat...’, he sighs happily. What followed were some thoughts and calculations on how to put an engine under a normal SUP board to enjoy the same ride without the help of others. Initially, it became clear that simply adding a motor would be too complicated, as water resistance is rather high and quite a lot of power would be needed. But if you add a wing in addition to the engine, the board rises above the water and the water resistance is much lower. A powerful engine is no longer necessary.
Such accessories are actually already available in retail, but the enterprising young people of Teadusklubi wanted to build these themselves. ‘We also discovered a little trick to make the SUP board modular, so that all three parts – the board, the engine, and the wings – can be packed in a backpack,’ Nöps explains why their project is different. The modularity of Ray Foil makes it lightweight and universal, as it fits under any SUP board. You can also add wings from different brands. ‘The idea behind it is that people can buy the module that they don’t have,’ says Nöps.
Read more and get in touch at teadusklubi.ee.