Apprentice Automation Challenge: Do you have what it takes?

Posted on 10 Jan 2020 by The Manufacturer

The Apprentice Automation Challenge – formerly known as the Home Automation Challenge – is the highly successful programme run by IMechE to encourage young engineers to stretch their imaginations and skills – and for the winner to earn a handsome prize of £2,000.

National Apprentice Week, which runs from February 3 – 7 is almost upon us, an opportunity to celebrate the great benefits apprentices bring to businesses and to attract more young people to brilliant careers in manufacturing.

All of which makes this an excellent time to consider the IMechE’s Apprentice Automation Challenge, which gives teams of apprentices the chance to take control of a product of their own design to production.

That will naturally take EngTech skills from IT through to electronics and mechanical engineering but will also require them to deploy business skills. After all, whatever product they come up with must have a real-world application likely to generate consumer demand.

Some of Britain’s best young engineering talent competed at the Home Automation Challenge 2019.

Four teams made it through to the finals of the Apprentice Automation Challenge 2019, judged at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry and attended by the Lord Mayor of Coventry, Linda Bigham.

For companies, this means their apprentices will be stretched in a way that can only enhance their future contribution to the business.

For the participating apprentices themselves the rewards are obvious. The prize money is nice, but the impact of all that extra learning, experimentation, team work, and not least exposure to a network of influential industry experts, can only be beneficial.

Below, we set out the Challenge in detail so you can pass it on to your apprentice teams and their managers. Note the registration closes on February 7, so there isn’t a huge amount of time to get this done.

And any company who wishes to be associated with this excellent event, the description at the bottom of this page explains how you can benefit from sponsorship, either in cash or in kind.

The Apprentice Automation Challenge

The Challenge provides real-life experience of the complete cycle of designing and manufacturing a prototype. Teams will develop key manufacturing and engineering skills, alongside business and soft skills that will enhance their future in an engineering career.

The objective is simple – to design and manufacture a product to automate a task in the home or garden. It could be a device to help get you out of bed in the morning or it could be something to make an otherwise boring task easier and quicker to do. The limit is your imagination!


  • Develop research and practical technical skills
  • Broaden professional development and understanding of key EngTech competences
  • Develop skills and experience that will count towards EngTech accreditation
  • Enhance project management skills
  • Widen manufacturing experience
  • Develop leadership and team-working skills
  • Meet leading professionals and network with leading industry experts
  • Count it towards your “off the job learning” for Levy funding, or use the project work for NVQ evidence.
  • Feature on your CV
  • Win up to £2,000 prize money

What it involves:


  • Registration – free of charge
  • Cost of prototype – £500-£1000 (estimated)
  • Travel to Coventry and attend the Finals Event on 10 July 2020


  • Guideline of four hours work per week
  • A business case for the mass production and sale of the product
  • Assigned supervisor to support the team

Key Dates

  • Registration – Now open
  • Registration Close – 7 February 2020
  • Report Submission – 15 May 2020
  • Final Event Day – 10 July 2020

How to enter:


Top Tips:

Report writing tips are available here as a downloadable word document

? See how last year’s event went …

Interested in supporting the Challenge?

The Apprentice Automation Challenge is an excellent opportunity for industry leaders to join the IMechE in supporting and upholding the future of young aspiring apprentices by enabling them to gain real-industry experience, practical employability skills and enhanced business and people skills, all within a set time-frame.


  • Build brand-awareness throughout the 9-month cycle
  • Marketing opportunities on IMechE and The Manufacturer’s media and social media channels
  • Engage with talented apprentices and learn about innovative ideas
  • Contribute to your CSR initiatives by inspiring and supporting the next generation of engineers
  • Drive your STEM engagement to help develop the engineering profession
  • Showcase your products and demonstrate your leadership to participating teams, judges, and spectators at the final event in July
  • Join the judging panel and present winning team with a category award
  • Be our guest of honour at The Manufacturer MX Awards and at The Manufacturing Leaders Summit, in Liverpool 11-12 November 2020

Price range:

  • Sponsorship packages range between £500 – £10,000
  • Sponsorship in kind opportunities are also available