Cockburn John Charles and Elliott Hudson amongst engineering winners

Teams from Cockburn John Charles Academy and Elliott Hudson College were amongst the winners at a recent schools engineering competition organised by Rotary.

This year’s event, held at the John Charles Centre For Sport in South Leeds hosted a record number of students from 20 schools. Over 200 students participated in building a sustainable energy vehicle from a design brief and were supplied with limited components. It had to travel up a gradient and achieve a set distance.

The benefit of this competition is that the children have to work in teams, communicate, and have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and modify their original thoughts.

Judges are on hand to make suggestions that the students may wish to investigate to improve their design. There are three categories’, and dependent upon age the task becomes more difficult.

The purpose of the competition is to inspire children to see the benefits and rewards of pursuing a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths as there is currently great shortage of engineers in all aspects of design, development and construction within the UK.

The Rotary Clubs in Yorkshire have recognised the skills shortages as many of the members have been involved with companies providing the products and services that we all take for granted.

Fay Best of WISE (Women in Science & Engineering) one of the judges, gave an inspiring speech where she told the students:

“More girls need to engage and consider this as a career option. Whilst Greta Thunberg is highlighting the problems, she is not offering solutions. The future solutions can be in your hands and women make up only 17% of the engineering workforce so there are some great opportunities to solve problems and make the world a better place.”

The comments from the teachers’ present were encouraging with statements:

“I have never seen children so engaged for such a long period of time. It takes us every effort to engage them for a one hour lesson. Rotary have done a terrific job in engaging them for nearly 5 hours.“

“The present school curriculum does not allow enough time for the practical aspect of STEM.”

“Our school has been coming for years and all the students tell us how much they enjoy the day and the challenge.”

One of the judge moderators, Derek Davidson observed:

“Looking at how the judges are having to help so many students to handle basic tools reminds me of recent TV programmes featuring orphaned primates at rescue centres where the carers have to show basic skills to enable them to survive in the wide world. There is definitely something lacking in the skills area of the present curriculum and that need to change.”

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Eileen Taylor said she was amazed at how each team had built a different style of vehicle and the enthusiasm of the students. She awarded prizes to the following winners:

Foundation: Cockburn John Charles Academy.

Intermediate: Temple Moor High School.

Advanced: Elliott Hudson College.

Innovation: Brigshaw High School.

The competition has the support of the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University and the West Riding Architects’ Association, as well as local business and Councillors.


This post is based on a press release issued by the Rotary Club of Roundhay