HUNDREDS of budding young engineers gathered at a naval base yesterday for a chance to put their knowledge to the test and explore a future in the technology industry.
The 2018 Royal Navy Engineering Challenge saw 75 teams of teenagers from across the country go head-to-head in a task where students had to design, construct and use a fully-functional marine vessel.
The challenge, which was held at HMS Sultan in Gosport, tasked youngsters with building a remote-control vessel capable of recovering objects on the seabed in just 24 hours.
Competition was fierce as schools and colleges from across the country came to take part.
Hoping to make a splash in the competition was UTC Portsmouth, based in Hilsea.
The college had entered six teams – a mixture of Year 10 and Year 11 students.
Year 10 pupils Freddie Willoughby and Parys Reid talked through the intricate design of their vessel – which used a crane system to pick up objects on the seabed.
Parys said: ‘Our design has changed a lot since we first started.
‘For our final design we have the crane on the top with the motors underneath, and a number of pull noodles to keep it together.
‘It has been an eventful day but an enjoyable one regardless.’
Freddie said: ‘Coming here today has been really worthwhile.
‘We’ve been able to work hard as a group and have even ended up on the top 10 leaderboard for a bit, which was really exciting.
‘We had one of our team members steering the boat while another operated the crane arm, so it is a real team effort.
‘We’ve all really enjoyed it and will be coming back again next year.’
Engineering teacher Freya Long said: ‘The students have done really well today.
‘There has been a lot of problem-solving which has had to be done on the spot but they have responded brilliantly to that.
‘One of our entries ended up in the time trials as well, so I would say it has gone really well.
‘We are so proud of the students and it has given us a lot to work with next time around.’
One of HMS Sultan’s leading navy chiefs explained that events like this are crucial to getting youngsters into the engineering industry.
Commodore Andy Cree said: ‘Days like this are important because it helps the navy to develop an interest in STEM subjects for young people – who may then go on to pursue careers in that industry.
‘When the event started four years ago we had 23 teams, and now have 75 here today.
‘It just goes to show how quickly young people’s interest in STEM subjects is increasing.
‘We are really proud to have so many groups here working and learning alongside one another to solve the problems they face.’
Prizes were awarded across three different age groups, with the overall winners of the competition being from UTC Swindon, HAE UTC and Eaton Aerospace Systems.