The final of this year's Young Engineer of the Year competition resulted in a fantastic showcase of the amazing talent that's present amongst Staffordshire's Year 10 students across an array of schools.
Now in its third year, the challenge set to budding future engineers and entrepreneurs was to team up and design, print and pitch a gadget. The competition brief was nonrestrictive with the only stipulations based around the capabilities of the buildplate encased within the MakerBot Z18 3D printers that were gifted to the schools.
In total 23 high schools took part, each sponsored by a local business who offered both financial and mentoring support, from the launch of the competition in September through to the final in June.
The model of this competition allows businesses to work closely with schools to bring a curriculum-based project to life, offering an exceptional learning experience that impacts greatly on the individuals involved. Lee McCue, Design & Technology Teacher at the University Academy of Kidsgrove praised the project saying, "The positive outlook that you provide for our students, and certainly the young people of our great city is amazing, and very much appreciated.
"For our school the time and gracious efforts you provide make a significant mark that is so much very special. The spark of learning and the enthusiasm that you have been able to give so very kindly makes such a major impact on their future goals and aspirations."
The benefits to the businesses involved are endless and go back to that old-age proverb ' the more you put in, the more you get out' and this is certainly the case for our sponsors who's involvement in the project is seen as both 'rewarding' and essential to 'secure the future of their business.'
Throughout the duration of the project, certain milestones are set to ensure students stay on track, one of the main milestone events from this year's competition was the 'Gadget Show meets Dragons' Den' Event held at Britannia Stadium. Here, students held a trade-stand style 'Gadget Show' in addition to entering the 'Den' to pitch their gadget idea to a panel of judges.
The judges were selected from the local business community along with representatives from the National Apprentice Service, and EAL, (the recognised awarding organisation for engineering). KMF were also honoured to have Josh Cook join the panel who entered BBC 2's TV show Dragons' Den winning investment from Deborah Meaden.
The feedback from the Dragons was exceptional with comments including 'great business plan', 'well-structured pitch' they were all thoroughly impressed with how well the students had performed.
On Thursday 18th June, the competition came to a conclusion. Joined by The Gadget Show's Jason Bradbury, who has been an ambassador to the project since the beginning, KMF put on quite a show.
The final 26 teams, who made it through from the initial submission of 154 teams, then the 48 strong team semi-final, put on their concluding display, in a last attempt to be crowned KMF's Young Engineer of the Year.
All teams were exceptional and some of the gadgets on display were ready for market. A prime example being the winning team, who's gadget Easy Egg provided a no-mess solution to cracking an egg. Aptly named Simplicity 1st, the team from Painsley Catholic College impressed the audience. Not only did they have a well-designed gadget, the packaging and branding around their concept idea was phenomenal.
Also recognised throughout the competition was Team Lumos from Clayton Hall Business & Language College, who were awarded at the Gadget Show for Best Trade Stand, Team Soundwaves from St Margaret Ward Catholic School won Best Pitch. Spell Scribe from Haywood Academy were chosen by Jason Bradbury as having the best gadget with their self-correcting pen and Ormiston Horizon Academy were runners up with the Rubeats gadget.
This exemplary project provides an exceptional learning experience for the students involved, who benefit from working alongside a business to develop not only a gadget but personal and business skills that they will need to succeed within their chosen career. The network of businesses involved also provides links for this future workforce.