Three schools from Wales and Warwickshire came out on top at the first ever Design and Make Challenge organised by the Manufacturing Assembly Network.
Alcester Grammar, Southam College and Ysgol Bro Dinefwr beat off competition from four other rivals to take the ‘Manufacturing’, ‘Innovation’ and ‘Efficiency’ titles respectively, reportedly impressing the Design and Make Challenge judges with their teamwork, creativity and ability to meet the project brief.
In total, almost 30 students from seven schools swapped their daily lessons for the chance to test out their engineering and design skills by using basic materials and tools to make a device capable of lifting a 13kg block of stainless steel using just a friction grip.
The event – which was hosted by Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) – is the first in a series of activities being created by the Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN) in order to help it bridge the skills gap and start developing a pipeline of future engineers.
Founder of Grove Design, Austin Owens is described as the driving force behind the initiative. He explained: “Industry still has an image issue and we can no longer sit on our hands and just expect the government to come up with a solution for getting more skills into our sector.
“We want to get young people excited about design and engineering, so decided to bring the collective strengths of the group together and host a special challenge that would get them thinking about STEM skills, designing and making a solution for a real engineering problem.”
The three winning teams each received an Ultimaker 3D Printing machine for their schools, donated by the CREATE Education project.
In addition to Alcester Grammar, Southam College and Ysgol Bro Dinefwr, teams also came from Kineton High, Lawrence Sheriff, Myton and President Kennedy Schools.
They were all given a box of materials, including dowelling and plywood, and tasked with sketching out concepts before turning their designs into reality by using basic hand tools to come up with a device capable of lifting the block with just a hoist and two hooks.
A prototype testing area was also set up to encourage pupils to put their ideas through their paces before submitting their final solution.
Ellie Barker, a pupil at Alcester Grammar School, commented: “It was a quality day and a great opportunity to do something different, working as part of a team to solve a problem.
“It certainly made me want to focus more on being an engineer… industry needs more female engineers!”
Ysgol Bro Dinefwr’s Aaron Morgan said: “The MAN Design and Make Challenge opened up our minds to different types of engineering and clearly demonstrated what skills you might need if you want to follow a career in this sector.”
The Manufacturing Assembly Network is a collective of eight sub-contract manufacturers and an engineering design agency.
It is made up of Alucast, Barkley Plastics, Brandauer, C-MAC SMT, Grove Design, KimberMills International, Mec Com, Muller Holdings and PP Control & Automation.
Together they offer every engineering discipline imaginable, including automation and control systems, casting, design, forging, plastic injection moulding, PCB development and precision machining and precision stamped parts.