Three schools from the Black Country and Warwickshire have been crowned the main winners at one of the UK’s biggest independent manufacturing-education events.
Ernesford Grange Community Academy, Great Wyrley Academy and WMG Academy for Young Engineers Coventry beat off competition from five other schools to take the Manufacturing, Innovation and Efficiency titles respectively at the Design & Make Challenge 2022.
Organised by the Manufacturing Assembly Network, the challenge saw more than 35 students swap their daily lessons for the chance to test out their design, engineering, prototyping and communication skills at the all-day event, which was held at WMG Academy for Young Engineers in Solihull.
Teams of four Year 11 and Year 12 pupils were challenged to use basic materials and tools to make a vehicle that could be propelled by a falling weight. They tested their devices, modified them and then raced them on a purpose-built 7.5-metre track. WMG Academy Coventry’s vehicle recorded the fastest time of just 3.64 seconds.
‘Now, more than ever, we need young people to choose engineering and manufacturing as a career and we’re not going to change perceptions by sitting on our hands, doing nothing,’ said Austin Owens, founder of Grove Design (Pembridge) and co-chair of the Manufacturing Assembly Network. ‘This was a comeback for the Design & Make Challenge after a Covid-19-enforced break and we were delighted to see the appetite to take part was still there. I have to say the task was the hardest yet and the young people really embraced it. The atmosphere in the room was amazing and I’m convinced we’ve seen some of the engineers of the future here, engineers who will go on and improve the way we live for the better.’
Each of the winning schools received a 3D printer donated by 3DPRINTUK.
‘The day is all about bringing sound design and engineering principles to the fore to solve a topical industrial issue, with young people encouraged to work together to develop innovative designs and then build a product they can test against their peers,’ said Peter Davies, chief executive of James Lister & Sons and co-chair of the Manufacturing Assembly Network. ‘Apprentices from Manufacturing Assembly Network companies and graduates from WMG at the University of Warwick, were working with the groups and talking about their own experiences following a career in manufacturing and some of the skills they may need to realise their ambition. All of the feedback we received was positive, which excites us about doing it again next year. We now urge other manufacturers to look at how they can play a role in helping promote our sector to young people.’