Worcester City Council and the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership have staged the city’s first Engineering Challenge for Primary Schools, in a bid to encourage more young people to consider a career in the profession.
The finals at Worcester’s Hive on Friday 16 March saw a pair of students from 14 local schools competing to design and build a pedestrian bridge crossing the River Severn by Gheluvelt Park – a project which is being given serious consideration by the City Council.
First place was awarded to Alex Cwenarkiewicz and William Hinton – year 4 students at Carnforth Primary School in Worcester.
Runners up were Roberto Cornejo and Gehan Hussain – year 4 pupils from Our Lady Queen of Peace Primary School.
“I’ve really enjoyed the challenge; we learned that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” said Eva Chikurunhe, a year 4 pupil at Worcester’s St. George’s Catholic Primary School.
“Designing and creating bridges is definitely something I’d consider doing in the future.”
Her team mate Toby Luce concurs. “I think I’d like to be a mad scientist when I’m an adult,” he adds.
Judges included Steve Munn, Head of Project Management at Worcester Bosch and Worcester City Council MD David Blake, himself an engineer. They assessed the operation, function, mechanism and design of each team’s bridge, as well as their ability to solve problems and communicate well together.
For years employers have warned of an acute shortage of skilled engineers at all levels in the UK - it is estimated that the country needs 1.8 million new engineers and technicians by 2025.
Mounting evidence suggests that children need to be enthused and informed about the profession at a much earlier age.
“We are a local manufacturing company and we want to recruit more people at every level within the organisation – not only those with high level engineering degrees but also employees with a good all round technical understanding,” explains Worcester Bosch’s Steve Munn.
“We’re working with a number of local schools to encourage more young people to consider a career in engineering.”
The Council joined forces with STEMworks (www.stemworks.co.uk), a local organisation specialising in education outreach work, to bring the challenge to local classrooms.
STEMworks Ambassador Sarah Lalor explains: “Many children don’t know what engineering really involves – they often think it’s similar to being a mechanic and involves getting dirty.
“We want children to realise there’s more to engineering than they thought. It requires skills in maths, creativity, design, communication, imagination and science.”
Note to editors
Competing Worcester schools in the challenge were: Claines Primary School; Cranham Primary School; Carnforth School; Holymount School; Lyppard Grange Primary School; Nunnery Wood Primary School; Oasis Academy Warndon; Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Primary School; Perrywood Primary School; St. Barnabas CE Primary School; St. George’s CE Primary School; St. George’s Catholic Primary School; St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School; Stanley Road Primary School and Whittington CE Primary School.