Twenty young engineers took part in a unique learning experience at Flakt Woods in Colchester, turning their creative engineering ideas into reality in a Dragon's Den type challenge.
The group of 16 to 17 year old students spent the day discovering their potential, by meeting the challenge of designing a commercial skydiving training facility for up to 4 people, at any one time, to help them to learn to skydive safely. The project was demanding as it involved fast-track learning on the principles of keeping people suspended in an airstream whilst consuming the least amount of energy - therefore being the most commercially attractive proposition.
At the end of their day, the students pitched their ideas to a group of engineering experts and business professionals from the Industry, whose job it was to judge which of the entries were best - acting as the 'Dragon's' by asking searching questions of the four teams presenting.
The day provided an introduction into how technical innovations can be produced, marketed and sold in the real world. The event was organised with the Arkwright Trust; who award scholars to students with an interest in pursuing a career in engineering, held by Fläkt Woods, and supported by BT and CIBSE. Students learnt everything they needed to know about starting their own flourishing enterprise, including technical, financial and marketing advice.
The students discovered how to adopt the right commercial model for their business - an important ingredient for making money - and how to change it as new competitors enter the market. Throughout the course, students developed life skills such as teamwork, communication, problem solving and time management.
The day was conceived by Fläkt Woods sales engineer Faye Young - the CIBSE YEN Chair for the region who commented 'We are delighted to have teamed up with BT and CIBSE along with the Arkwright Trust to run this course. There's a major skills shortage in the engineering sector, so engaging young people in the possibilities of the field is vital to addressing this issue. All credit to the students, as they all embraced the opportunity and showed great commitment and enthusiasm to their projects and the course as a whole.'
'The winning team have the chance to compare their concept with reality - as each member has the opportunity to experience the real thing at a facility using our fans in Milton Keynes!' Phil Lennard, director of Education Outreach BT Innovate & Design, added 'It was inspiring to see the students become engaged in the event so quickly; they embraced the technology and seized upon the opportunities and challenges that technology can often bring. Additionally, it was really impressive to see them work together to form cohesive and effective teams, especially as most of them had never met before. Finally, seeing these young people develop their ideas into potentially excellent revenue generating opportunities was just excellent.'