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Engineering students take on disaster relief challenge

UTC Reading students joined young engineers from University Technical Colleges across the country at HMS Sultan in Gosport on Thursday 10 March.

A total of 34 teams took part in the Royal Navy challenge Operation Antarctica 2016.

Themed around the Royal Navy’s role of providing disaster relief, the students were tasked with designing a boat capable of negotiating dangerous ice floes and retrieving lost supplies from a mission zone in the Antarctic.

With the event falling on the eve of British Science Week, it gave everyone involved the chance to demonstrate how organisations such as the Royal Navy, Young Engineers, Babcock, BAE Systems and UTCs are encouraging young people into careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). 

The challenge was hosted within an aircraft hangar, which is normally used by air engineering technicians from the Defence College of Technical Training’s Royal Naval Air Engineering and Survival Equipment School. In between competing, the students were given the opportunity to look at some aircraft and enjoy interactive displays around the arena. In addition they were given tours of marine engineering training facilities used by the Defence School of Marine Engineering, including diesel engines and thunderous gas turbines.

Among the VIPs in attendance were First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sir George Zambellas, Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Jonathan Woodcock, and Chairman of Baker Dearing Educational Trust The Rt Hon Lord Baker of Dorking. 

UTC Reading STEM Co-ordinator Lewis Hutchinson said: “The whole event was a fantastic success and was enjoyed by everybody. The event gave our students the opportunity to put their engineering skills and expertise into practice to meet this challenge.”

Admiral Sir George Zambellas said: “Engineers from around the UK are designing, building and operating a new generation of ships, aircraft and submarines for the Royal Navy. These are bristling with world-beating technology, to protect our nation’s interests against the most advanced threats. As we consider exciting developments in areas such as autonomous systems and artificial intelligence, it is even more clear that the Royal Navy’s future is bound tightly to Britain’s strength in science, technology and engineering. 

“The Royal Navy UTC Engineering Challenge is designed to test the technical ability and creativity of young engineers. By working with schools and colleges to nurture their skills and enthusiasm, we can put more young people on the path toward a highly rewarding career in which they can shape the technical future of the Royal Navy and the nation.”

Lord Baker said: “I am delighted that so many students from UTCs across the country are competing today in Operation Antarctica.  The competition offers a wonderful opportunity for students to apply the skills and expertise they learn every day at their UTC.

"Our country needs considerably more engineers and we welcome the support that the Royal Navy is giving to the UTC programme in helping to inspire the next generation.”

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