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Both THS teams of Future Engineers experienced an inspiring day out at Silverstone, home of British Motor Racing, representing the South West Region in the National Finals of the Land Rover 4x4 in Schools Technology Challenge on 28th March. The ‘Professional’ Panthers, led by Etienne Peach, impressed the judges with the design and performance of their radio-controlled vehicle and were rewarded with the RS Innovative Thinking Award and the iRob Best Track Performance Award. ‘Rookie’ Armadillos (nominated for Judges’ Recommendations), led by Ben Harries, had a few unfortunate technical difficulties with their modified kit car, but the team gained tips from their rivals and are determined to impress next year. To round off a long and exciting day, the teams enjoyed a Silverstone F1 Grand Prix circuit tour in the school’s minibus driven by Mr Januszewski (at under 20mph!).
After setting up their stands and a welcome ceremony, competitors were straight away called into action. Teams were judged according to how their cars performed during a track test over an obstacle course, their design portfolios, their ‘pit displays’, their verbal presentation to a panel, a gruelling engineering interview and (new for 2017) a cyber security challenge.
Led by Etienne Peach, Panthers team members had defined roles: Alex Jenkins (Electronic Engineer), Naomi Roberts (Resources Manager), Matt Torok (Mechanical Engineer), Harry Cook (Design Engineer), Joel Nugent (Graphic Designer). Their radio-controlled four-wheel drive vehicle was designed and built to set specifications and needed to successfully navigate and complete obstacles on a specially designed test track, thus emulating the capabilities of a full scale 4x4 vehicle off-road.
Armadillos Team leader Ben Harries was assisted by Barney Lynes-Hembrey (Design Engineer), Adam Barnes (Manufacturing Engineer), Jeff Joy (Graphic Designer), Luke Hagon (Electronic Engineer), Ollie Davy-Bowker (Resources Manager). In the Beginners’ class, they were asked to modify a starter kit remote-controlled vehicle by making their own vehicle body, lights and tilt sensor and had to understand the vehicle’s suspension, drive train, chassis and wheels.
Club leader Etienne Peach from Year 13 reflected “ This was a great journey for the club; we have achieved so much and this year’s team have built a strong foundation for the club and its future teams”. Arkwright scholar Matt Torok in Year 12, who will be taking over the reins to run the student-led club, reported “The day was an amazing experience – we all gained invaluable knowledge and are looking forward to another year”. As the Year 13 students move on, remaining members across the years have ambitiously set their sights on the big prize and will be recruiting new members with whom to share their passion for engineering in the months ahead.
The school is very grateful to local sponsors Atlas Elektronik, Precision Acoustics, Poundbury Systems, Hugh Roberts Decorating , The Blue Vinny, Alacrify, Wessex Property Service and to the Arkwright Scholarship Trust for supporting the students in their amazing adventure into engineering.