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Future engineers rise to the challenge

7 January 2016
Seventy two young students from Cornwall have taken part in the annual ‘Merlin Engineering Challenge’ at 824 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose.

The event, which is run by engineering firm Lockheed Martin, is now in it’s 5th year, and is more popular than ever, with twelve schools sending teams to take part. 

Melanie Coles from Lockheed Martin explained:  “We are trying to get the children to understand what the Navy and Fleet Air Arm is all about and how our organisation supports the Navy.

“Culdrose is the home of the Merlin helicopter, and we are the prime contractor, so it’s fantastic to put on events where we can mentor children from the local community.”

We really tested our team working skills helping each other and working together to complete the task on time.

Yasmin Stevens

The brief this year was to design and build a mechanism that could rescue a Merlin Mk 2 helicopter which had landed heavily in the desert.

The teams had five hours to complete the challenge, before Culdrose’s Commander of Aircraft Engineering Jeff Bell, announced that Jools Clarke, Kristina Catt, Nyall Thornton, Alex Moreman, Yasmin Stevens and Connor Finch of Richard Lander School were the winners. 

He said their mechanism “had a slow and measured winch and a great deal of control”, before adding: “Aircrew wouldn’t be able to operate this aircraft without the men and women who are dedicated to repairing and servicing them. 

“At RNAS Culdrose, like all Fleet Air Arm Engineers, we are able to maintain aircraft both ashore and at Sea, which makes us quite unique. Maybe after today you will consider a career with the Fleet Air Arm.”

The event allowed the students (who have an existing interest in maths, science and engineering), to work on the task in a military environment. 

Its overriding objective is to encourage the students to hone their interest in engineering. 

Sub Lieutenant Robert Gillman explained why 824 Naval Air Squadron are happy to host the event: “Today is a great projection of the Navy into the community. 

“The children see our aircraft flying in the skies and today they will leave with a greater understanding of what we do”.

After the winning certificates and prizes were handed to Richard Lander School, Yasmin Stevens summed up the success of the day by saying:

“It feels great to have won. We really tested our team working skills helping each other and working together to complete the task on time. 

“After today all of us in the group are really considering future careers in engineering.”

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