Rhys Bradbury, a student at the JCB Academy, updates on what's going on at the new £22m engineering school in Rocester
Last term, Harper Adams University College set us a task to design and build a remote control car in teams of five. We then had to race our car against other teams to determine the winners of that challenge. It was exciting having a lot of people there to watch, including the governors, the Principal and Sir Anthony Bamford – owner of JCB. It’s a shame that my team didn’t reach the final though; probably because the motor fell off our car! To begin this new term, a new challenge has been set by representatives from Network Rail, who gave us a presentation about their company and told us about a project they are running from 2009 until 2014 which will cost £34 billion.
It was certainly interesting hearing about the scale of an operation which maintains and improves Britain’s rail tracks, signalling, rail bridges, tunnels, level crossings, viaducts and 18 major city stations.
Our engineering challenge will be to design and build the control system for a level crossing. First, in preparation, we will work in teams on a project centred round a traffic light junction, in order to build our understanding. We will then work individually to create the control systems. We are visiting the East Midlands Railway Control Centre in Derby on November 9 which will give us an opportunity to look at how the computer control systems are used on the railway infrastructure. This will hopefully give us some ideas for our project.
As you can see, we do a lot of engineering at the JCB Academy.
But it’s not just that; we engage in business studies too. Therefore, for the business part of the challenge, we will be looking at different aspects of business administration.
This will involve organising and taking part in business meetings, performing various roles and duties and producing a range of business documents.
In engineering, each of us has also been making a softheaded hammer on lathes in the workshops. As it is our first time using the lathes, we are making them from aluminium so that it is light and easy to work with.
When we have finished making the hammers, we will then use them for our practical work and they will be recorded in our portfolios for our diploma.
At the JCB Academy, we have a house points system which is a rewards scheme that gives students something to aim for. Whether for impressive work or good behaviour, we are rewarded with house points.
However, house points can be lost as well as gained! These points go towards an awards ceremony at the beginning of the next term. This term, an iPod Nano was awarded to the person with the most house points and a PlayStation 3 games console was awarded to a random student from the house with the largest number of points collectively.
These are great prizes, in my opinion, and next time our school council will be choosing the bounty.
The engineering challenge looks like an exciting prospect that I’m glad to taking part in. Along with everyone else, I am looking forward to visiting the control centre in Derby before buckling in to the tasks that Network Rail have set for us . I’ll let you know how we get on!