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Young Engineers take on disaster relief challenge for National Science Week

11 March 2016
Teams of young scientists from schools across the UK have taken part in a Royal Navy challenge to design a small boat capable of negotiating ice flows in Antarctica as part of National Science Week.

A total of 34 teams took part in the Royal Navy’s University Training College Young Engineers Challenge – Operation Antarctica 2016 – at HMS Sultan in Gosport.

Themed around the Royal Navy’s role of providing disaster relief, the students were tasked with designing a boat capable of negotiating dangerous ice flows and retrieving lost supplies from a mission zone in the Antarctic.

With the event falling on the eve of British Science Week, it gave everyone involved the chance to demonstrate how organisations such as the Royal Navy, University Technical Colleges (UTCs), Young Engineers, Babcock and BAE Systems across the engineering industry are encouraging young people into science, technology, engineering and mathematics STEM careers. 

By working with schools and colleges to nurture their skills and enthusiasm, we can put more young people on the path toward a highly rewarding career in which they can shape the technical future of the Royal Navy and the Nation.

Admiral Sir George Zambellas

The Challenge was hosted within an aircraft hangar normally used by Air Engineering Technicians from the Defence College of Technical Training’s Royal Naval Air Engineering and Survival Equipment School(RNAESS) and in between competing, the students were given the opportunity to look at a number of aircraft and enjoy a number of interactive displays around the arena. 

In addition youngsters were given tours of marine engineering training facilities used by the Defence School of Marine Engineering (DSMarE) including Diesel Engines and thunderous Gas Turbines.

Within a display of industry apprentices up to the age of 25, Royal Navy students from the RNAESS and DSMarE and the Weapons Engineering Training Group(WETG), HMS Collingwood were put up against teams from RAF Cosford and competition sponsor BAE Systems with team ‘ME’ proving the most efficient model. 

Following the competition, 11 awards were presented by VIPs in the following categories: for the most effective harbour clearance, best design and construction, best presentation, best valiant effort and best theme. 

Overall winners in the 14-16 category of the competition were team ‘UTC Sharks’ from Energy Coast, Cumbria and in the 16-18 category team ‘HMS Apologies’ from South Wiltshire UTC. 

UTC Shark team member Thompson Reed, 15 said: “We have all worked really hard as a team and are really thankful for what we have achieved today and for the help and time that our teachers have given towards the challenge.” 

“The Navy helped provide us with all of the things required to get the best possible outcome. It’s been really fun and a task like this has been really interesting for everybody. I can’t wait to tell my family and make sure everyone knows.”

Energy Coast, also entered a team in the 16-18 category with ‘Shackleton 2.0’ and although not overall winners they were also still among the awards. Graeme Jackson, Lead Engineering Subject teacher at Energy Coast  Said: ”The students have absolutely loved the Challenge.”

“Initially starting off quite slowly, they built up some designs with graduates from Sellafiled Nuclear Plant offering some advice and support. The students then went away and made some CAD images followed by some prototypes they could test, so they’ve seen designs fail and some really successful models.” 

“There’s quite a lot of pride in seeing all the work that they have put into it and getting something out at the end, it’s been a really nice successful day.” 

Among the VIPs in attendance were Admiral Sir George Zambellas, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Jonathan Woodcock and the Chairman of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, The Rt Hon Lord Baker of Dorking. 

The First Sea Lord said: “Engineers from around the UK are designing, building and operating a new generation of ships, aircraft and submarines for the Royal Navy. 

"These are bristling with world-beating technology, to protect our Nation’s interests against the most advanced threats. As we consider exciting developments in areas such as autonomous systems and artificial intelligence, it is even more clear that the Royal Navy’s future is bound tightly to Britain’s strength in science, technology and engineering.  

“The Royal Navy UTC Engineering Challenge is designed to test the technical ability and creativity of young engineers. By working with schools and colleges to nurture their skills and enthusiasm, we can put more young people on the path toward a highly rewarding career in which they can shape the technical future of the Royal Navy and the Nation.” 

Lord Baker said: “I am delighted that so many students from UTCs across the country are competing today in Operation Antarctica.  The competition offers a wonderful opportunity for students to apply the skills and expertise they learn every day at their UTC. 

"Our country needs considerably more engineers and we welcome the support that the Royal Navy is giving to the UTC programme in helping to inspire the next generation.”

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