Inspiring tomorrow’s engineers and technicians with the Robotics Challenge

Mar 15, 2023

With the current skills shortage in the engineering and technology sector, it’s vital that we continue efforts to inform and inspire young people into engineering and technology careers. Our EEP Robotics Challenge aims to do just that, being a curriculum-linked, year-long programme that helps to improve the perception of engineering among both girls and boys.

Last year’s competition crowned a student team from Farnborough Hill as the winners. The winning team competed against hundreds of other schools across the country, involving completing a series of missions to discover what engineers can do to create a cleaner, sustainable world. They learnt to build a variety of LEGO® robotics kits and program it to complete a speed and control test and perform a set of environmentally themed tasks such as planting a tree.

Inspiring the next generation

For their winner’s prize Farnborough Hill recently had an experience day at Royal Air Force (RAF) Odiham station, Hampshire, and Alan Rees, Subject Leader of Physics at the school, is reflecting on the competition.

Alan said: “To see them become overall UK winners has been a career highlight for me. Within the school community, the win has piqued interest in more girls in their year group to consider STEM subjects as possible career choices.”

With the stark gender gap in engineering, it’s important to encourage more young girls to pursue careers in the sector and activities like the Robotics Challenge are helping us move in this direction.

Alan added: Aside from being a fan of LEGO and building contraptions myself, I wanted to offer a club that brought together aspects of engineering and technology that would equip the girls with skills for their future careers. Rather than simply following a set of instructions, the students needed to problem solve, think creatively and share ideas as part of a wider teamThis has been an ideal way to raise the profile of STEM within the school”.

Securing the future through exciting engagement activities

A student team from Goole Academy, East Yorkshire, won the Robotics Challenge in 2021 and due to the pandemic, they also recently had their experience day at RAF Coningsby station. Simon Poulton, Head of D&T at the school, is reflecting on the competition.

Simon has described it as an “amazing competition for amazing students with amazing experiences along the way” and said that “winning the national final at the NEC was a life-changing moment for the team”. This shows just how much teachers and students value activities like the Robotics Challenge and the big impact they can have on confidence and young people’s attitudes towards engineering.

Simon added: “The competition helps to bridge STEM subjects together and the students benefitted from also learning about the different STEM career paths, some of which they did not consider to be an option but now keen to explore further.

“The experience day was an amazing day and RAF Coningsby really did make the day a wonderful experience. The team were buzzing all the way home and it is something that we will enthusiastically talk about for many years to come”. This shows just how much the competition and experience day meant to the students, and the importance of exposing young people to activities like this where they can get hands-on and learn.

This year’s competition

The heats for this year’s Robotics Challenge will take place in April and May, and the final will take place on Wednesday 21 June at The Big Bang Fair – where the winners will also be announced. We’re encouraging all schools involved in the challenge this year to attend one of the upcoming heats:

Hosted by STEMFirst:

  • 25 April – Edge Hill University
  • 3 May – Preston College
  • 4 May – Preston College

Hosted by Learn By Design:

  • 19 April – RAF Cosford Museum
  • 20 April – Renishaw
  • 25 April – RAF Hollington
  • 26 April – University of Greenwich
  • 27 April – Kingston University
  • 28 April – RAF Hendon Museum
  • 3 May – Newcastle University
  • 11 May – University of York
  • 12 May – Sheffield Hallam
  • 16 May – Hove Park School
  • 17 May – Bournemouth University
  • 18 May – Exeter College
  • 22 May – Warwick Trident College

Hosted by SCDI:

  • 12 May – University of West Scotland
  • 16 May – Forth Valley College

Get involved with the Robotics Challenge and find out about all of EngineeringUK’s outreach programmes and activities.

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