ASPIRING boat builders raced each other in a competition to see who could design the best powerboat.
Schoolchildren from 10 schools were challenged by defence giant QinetiQ to design and build their own model boats.
Pupils from Springfield School in Portsmouth, Bay House School in Gosport, Crofton School in Stubbington and Henry Cort Community College in Fareham all took part in the challenge yesterday.
It was held at the indoor ship testing tank at QinetiQ’s base in Haslar, Gosport.
Rob Panter, 14, was part of a team from Springfield School, in Drayton.
Their boat came first in the first round of the races.
Rob said: ‘It was really good and exciting.
‘It was interesting to see somewhere that isn’t usually open to the public and to see all the stuff they have here.
‘We’ve been working on our boat for months and I was really happy we came first in the first race. It was a good experience.’
The schoolchildren were given a design brief by QinetiQ along with some of the equipment and parts they need to build the boats.
The managing director of the defence firm’s maritime arm Sarah Kenny said it was about encouraging more youngsters to take up science subjects and become marine engineers of the future.
She said: ‘There’s a national skills shortage in engineering and part of QinetiQ’s commitment is to bring local schools here.
‘It’s designed to get them to think about careers in the marine industry.
‘It’s an amazing opportunity for them to come to this facility.
‘What’s great this year is how different all the boats are.
‘They have given it a lot of thought. They will try anything to see what works and our staff have actually found that quite inspirational.’
Naval architects visited the schools before the challenge to talk to them about boat building and offer advice.
Josh White, 14, from Crofton School in Stubbington, said: ‘We had a great time.
‘I couldn’t believe how massive the ship tank was, it’s really cool.
‘I want to say a big thank you to QinetiQ for having us because it’s been so much fun.’
The teams later presented their designs to a panel of expert judges from QinetiQ and the marine industry.
Prizes were given out for the best displays of innovation and team building.
Science teacher Gemma Langdon-Saunders, from Crofton School, said the challenge taught the pupils more about what a job in the marine industry would be like.
‘It’s brilliant because they wouldn’t even know this place existed if it wasn’t for the challenge,’ she said.
‘They all enjoyed it and they know what a job in the industry is all about.’
Other schools competing were from elsewhere in Hampshire and Dorset.