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Bright young sparks rise to Royal Navy Engineering Challenge

22 March 2018
Youngsters from across the UK gathered at HMS Sultan, Gosport recently in order to compete in The Royal Navy Engineering Challenge - Exercise Clean Sweep to mark the Year of Engineering 2018.

Held in partnership with University Technical Colleges (UTCs) and affiliated employers, schools, Babcock and BAE Systems, the Challenge which involved building a remote-controlled vessel capable of recovering objects on the seabed aimed to inspire young people to engage further with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

75 teams competed in the Challenge, with several of the teams enjoying the opportunity to experience 24 hours of Naval life, including a night on board HMS Bristol.

This year’s Challenge was affiliated with the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales, sister ship to HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy’s newest and largest-ever warship.

The task was to build a remote-controlled vessel that can recover objects on the sea floor that need to be removed before the ship arrives in port.

UTCs offer the opportunity for young people to gain the academic and technical qualifications that are valued by the Royal Navy and other industry partners and this annual challenge provides an excellent example of the practical application of the theoretical learning they have received in the classroom.

Vice Admiral Sir Jonathan Woodcock KCB OBE

With the event falling in the Year of Engineering, the event gave everyone involved the chance to demonstrate how organisations across the engineering industry, such as the Royal Navy, Babcock and BAE Systems are encouraging young people into STEM careers.

Outside of competition itself, the youngsters were given the opportunity to enjoy several STEM-related displays and activities including tours of the Establishment’s facilities such as helicopters, gas turbines and diesel engines.

Prizes were awarded across six different categories between groups aged 14-16, 16-18 for apprentices from industry aged 18-24, with teams Extracting Compass from UTC Swindon, Impact from HAE UTC and Eaton by a Shark from Eaton Aerospace Systems overall winners in the respective categories.

UTC Portsmouth which opened in September, entered six teams in the competition for the first time. Year 10 student Parys Reid said:  “Every other time trial that we have done we have kind of just sank and our design has changed a lot since we started. We have kind of ended up with a double decker of a boat with our electrics at the bottom and our crane on top.”

"We only opened in September and this has been the first opportunity that we have had to see what the other UTCs are like and it’s been really interesting. I hope we can get to take part again next year.”

Freya Long, Design and Tech Engineering Teacher at UTC Portsmouth said: “I think they’ve enjoyed what they’ve done. There’s lots of problem solving that’s been going on and they’ve tried to do quite a lot and might have benefited from doing more testing, but most teams have stayed afloat.”

“I’m so proud of them and it’s given us a lot to work on for next year and looking to see what lots of other teams have been able to produce has been really useful.”

Vice Admiral Sir Jonathan Woodcock KCB OBE, Second Sea Lord said: “This annual engineering challenge which grows from strength to strength each year offers an invaluable opportunity for the Royal Navy to inspire the engineers of the future whilst at the same time encouraging innovation and showcasing the variety of roles and opportunities that exist for those wishing to pursue a career in engineering.”

“UTCs offer the opportunity for young people to gain the academic and technical qualifications that are valued by the Royal Navy and other industry partners and this annual challenge provides an excellent example of the practical application of the theoretical learning they have received in the classroom.”

Award winners

Best presentation

Aquaholics – HAE UTC

Most innovative

Impact – HAE UTC

Best manufacture

Eaton by a Shark- Eaton Aerospace Systems

Resilience prize

HMS The Claw – The Leigh UTC

Best newcomer

Eaton by a Shark- Eaton Aerospace Systems

Best in age group

KS4 Winners: Extracting Compass – UTC Swindon

Runners up: HMS Cheeseknife – Scarborough UTC

KS5 Winners: Impact – HAE UTC

Runners up: HMS Harley - – The Leigh UTC

Apprentices

Winners: Eaton by a Shark- Eaton Aerospace Systems

Runners up: Intrepid – BAE Systems

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