The Land Rover 4x4 in Schools Design ChallengeFollow article
Engineers come in all shapes and sizes, and the best way to inspire the engineers of tomorrow is to get them engaged at an early age.
At RS Components, we’ve been supporting engineers for almost 80 years, and together with our DesignSpark engineering community, we’re helping drive innovation around the world. In the spirit of engineering, and with a passion for finding and nurturing the engineers of tomorrow, in April this year, we joined the Land Rover 4x4 in Schools Technology Design Challenge as a sponsor.
The event was for the UK National Final, held at Silverstone. This initiative is to show children how cool engineering is and to engage, inspire and encourage those with the right attitude and enthusiasm to peruse a career in Engineering. Engineers are cool! We take problems and solve them and help create world changing applications. Events like this help discover the talent of tomorrow.
Over 100 schools have been involved in the challenge this year. This National Finals Event was made up of 25 teams from around the UK, all competing for a place in the World Finals.
To try and replicate the real world of engineering and manufacturing, each team had a member in charge of the various aspects of their projects. The teams were made up of 6 students and they spilt between them the tasks of project team manager, mechanical and electronic design, manufacture, evaluation, marketing and sponsorship.
For many it was a crash course into the world of electronics and mechanical design. In general, designs took the students 6-9 months to design, prototype and develop their cars so they were ready to tackle the obstacle courses and present their projects to the judges.
The teams were split into two classes, Class 1 for Rookies, and Class 2 for the more experienced entrants. They had to follow a 6 step process, just like a Jaguar Land Rover do. They were set some guidelines and specifications that their designs had to comply with.
Teams sketch their concept down onto paper to draft out their initial design.
Using 3D CAD software, they transferred their idea into the digital world and developed it around the set criteria.
The vehicle and individual components are analysed virtually for strength, flexibility and functionality.
4 – Manufacture and Assemble
The teams used radio controlled cars as the base for their design. They stripped these back and modified them by utilising tools like CNC routers, milling machines, lathes and 3D printers for components like mounts to stiffen or soften suspension. Many of them also used plastic molding with vacuum forming equipment for the body work. In addition to electronic components, some used Raspberry Pi’s that were donated by RS Components, to control things like the lights and tilt sensors.
5 – Test
The teams put their vehicles through a series of tests to ensure their suitability for the tasks ahead. In the spirit of Rapid Prototyping, they modified their designs to improve performance.
6 – Drive
The teams had to put their vehicles to the test by successfully negotiating a series of off road style obstacles that included rough terrain, hill climbs and tunnels, as well as a trailer tow through tight turns.
The judging team was made up of engineers from Jaguar Land Rover, as well as some of the sponsors including myself and colleagues from RS Components. The teams overall score was made up of their cars design, performance and presentation of their project.
I was blown away with their level of skill, organisation and presentation of their work at such a young age. It was also amazing to see the passion that these school children had for the project and how they took and solved problems head on. It was also great to see a good mix of girls and boys taking part with equal enthusiasm. I have no doubt that many of them have successful engineering careers ahead of them.
Congratulations to Team Ascent from the Royal Grammar School in Worcester, who will be heading off to the World Finals at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, UK on 5th July 2016.
Here’s a video we created that captures the event