The challenge set by subcontractor KMF (Precision Sheet Metal) for the inaugural event was for students in years 8, 9, 10 and 11 to design and manufacture a clock, using a standard mechanism provided by KMF. In that first year, over 1,700 students, from 16 local schools, participated, with the winners being recognised at a spectacular awards evening at Stoke City's Britannia Stadium, hosted by enthusiastic TV personality Jason Bradbury.
Image: Jason Bradbury congratules Ben Walker, winner of the under-14s section of the KMF Young Engineer of the Year Awards 2012
Encouraged by the success of this event, Newcastle under Lyme KMF's managing director Gareth Higgins has expanded the competition for 2013/2014, partnering with The Greenpower Education Trust (http://www.greenpower.co.uk) to challenge students in year 10 to build and race their own electric-powered car.
KMF, along with other sponsors, have purchased 18 kit cars, which have been supplied free of charge to the schools taking part. The sponsors are local and national businesses who have been encouraged to get on board with specific schools, and who will be providing technical and business advice along the way.
KMF arranged for an empty unit on the High Carr Business Park, Newcastle under Lyme, where it is based, to be converted into 18 pit bays, where the students started to build their cars at the end of November.
Image: Eager students get building their cars
Image: Other teams get stuck in, too
Image: Checking the drawings - always a good move
IN THE PITS
Each of the 18 teams had their own pit for the day and, with the help of their sponsors, began the process of building their Greenpower electric racing cars. Dressed in their team uniforms, the enthusiastic students set to work on the first of two phases of the car building project to create a rolling chassis. They will then go on to refine their designs, creating aerodynamic bodywork, adding to and replacing certain components as allowed by the Greenpower rules, before a test day early in 2014.
The 18 teams will then compete against each other, on track, at Darley Moor race circuit near Chesterfield. Prizes will be awarded by The Gadget Show presenter Jason Bradbury, with awards for The Best Designed Car, Furthest Distance Travelled, Fastest Lap and the ultimate accolade of one student being declared the KMF's Young Engineer of the Year 2013/14. And one of the 18 teams will be on the Greenpower starting grid, when the event takes place in June next year.
Image: A winner? Time will tell
Each one of the YEOTY teams has 12 members and all have specific roles within the team that relate in some way to real-life business. This connection to business is enhanced with the support of school sponsors, which include local companies, such as Wrights Food Group, Sure Retail and Greenway Pepper, along with national and international brands such as Michelin, Trumpf and Amada. In addition the event is fully supported by the Charity and Educational Trust Greenpower, HSBC, the National Apprenticeship Service, EAL, SEMTA and the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce.
Speaking at the build day event Alleynes Academy teacher Craig Bailey said: "The whole project is inspirational and the team's enthusiasm has become infectious and they are getting sixth formers to volunteer as Technology Ambassadors to help them with some of the more challenging aspects of building the car. What is also encouraging was the competition for places on the team, especially among the girls, we have four female team members, with one of them already taking up a work experience place with our team sponsor, precision engineering company, MG Sanders"
On a similar note Jerry Watson, a teacher at Painsley Catholic College, reports that the entire team is 'buzzing'. "We participated in the first KMF Young Engineer of the Year event, when our students designed and manufactured clocks. However, this project has taken the event to a whole new level, and by introducing the business element it's superb and is certainly helping to raise the profile of engineering within the school. On a personal level, the quality of the project material and the support that is being provided by KMF and our sponsor Greenway Pepper is excellent, so much so that my involvement is limited to simply overseeing things and very little time is required on the part of staff."
Alan Bower, who is supporting the students at Moorside High School, directs his praise towards KMF and its team of people for organising and driving the event forward: "What KMF is doing under the guidance of Gareth Higgins, the managing director, is quite special. There are No other companies that I know of that are investing anything like the time and support into a project like this. All of our students taking part feel valued and a part of something big and, as a result of being involved with this event, our sponsor, Sure Retail, has opened up its apprentice training programme."
Says KMF managing director Gareth Higgins: "The 2013/14 event was launched to an eager audience of head teachers and design and technology department heads on 16 July and the response was overwhelming, with 18 schools signing up almost immediately. The aim for this year's event is to expand the remit of the YEOTY awards and make it more business orientated, while also getting students involved from a very early stage.
"Each team has 12 members; the students had to apply to become a member by submitting a CV and a covering letter explaining why they think they should be chosen to take part. We then shortlisted these applicants and interviewed each of them, along with their school's sponsor."
Schools taking part in the KMF YEOTY award will see major benefits, such as gaining strong links with, and extremely valuable resources from, their business sponsor. The project aligns itself with OFSTED's requirements, with each school being provided with lesson plans that meet the requirements of the curriculum, they can keep the car at the end to use for future activities, and, of course, it is all free of charge.
By the same degree, students also benefit by gaining an insight into engineering through hands-on experience, plus it is an opportunity to develop business and management skills, as well as personal development through writing CVs and going through the application and interview process. It is also an opportunity to speak with business people and, possibly, find a future employer, there is also that competitive edge between schools, culminating in the race day.
While many companies have a corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda, KMF (Precision Sheet Metal)'s CSR is driven by a passion to develop skills and to enthuse young people by providing genuine opportunities for them to shine. This has grown, in part, as a result of its own extensive in-house training facilities for its apprentices. "Yes, we are passionate about the support and assistance that we give to schools, but this passion is driven by a need for engineering, KMF included, to identify a pool of talent that can be developed into the engineers and businessmen and women of the future.
"From a selfish point of view, we are hoping to enthuse enough students about engineering that they will consider an apprenticeship with KMF. However, it goes much wider than that, and this is why we are expanding the YEOTY and have invited companies from across the whole business spectrum to join with us as school sponsors and become directly involved," Mr Higgins says.
"We are pleased with the feedback that we are getting from the sponsors and that they are all getting involved for the right reasons. The KMF YEOTY opens up opportunities for businesses to work closely with schools and, in turn, it makes students think about their future career path, especially given the broad range of sponsors that we are working with, which range from a large food manufacturer, through an insurance broking and risk management group to international brands such as Michelin and Wade Ceramics. The model that we are using for the KMF YEOTY is also transferrable and we are encouraged that some sponsors, from outside of Stoke, are genuinely interested in taking it on and using it in their own locations."
FULLY ENGAGED SPONSORS
The 18 sponsors of this year's KMF Young Engineer of the Year are becoming fully engaged with the process, dedicating time and resource to supporting their individual school. While some can provide engineering expertise and mentoring, others are giving time to support the students in other practical ways, such as marketing and business management skills. The response so far from the schools and students to this activity has been enthusiastic, to say the least, with sponsors quickly realising the potential that this interaction can bring and also the desire from schools and students to soak up any knowledge that they can get.
Ian McCartney, of sponsor Wilson Tool International, says: "Like KMF, Wilson Tool has a long-standing and steadfast commitment to our apprenticeship scheme. We generally take two apprentices per year, selecting the best of the many applications we receive. I strongly believe that the engineering industry can offer varied and exciting careers for the brightest young people. Programs such as KMF's YEOTY help to promote engineering as a potential career option for young students, giving them an insight into working as a team to complete an engineering project. The students will gain practical experience as they interview for a place on the team and will develop team-working skills, as they overcome engineering challenges and work to achieve a common objective. Wilson Tool shares KMF's commitment to promoting engineering with young students. With this in mind, we are planning to work closely with them on this project with a view to Wilson Tool running something similar in the Swindon area in the future."
Greg Pepper, Greenway Pepper, offers: There is no better idea for modern engineering and recruitment of engineers than what KMF is doing with its apprentices and the YEOTY project. The idea of training your own apprentices from concept to completed item is perfect for your own business. This is because the young engineer will only be accustomed to your ways and knowledge of how your business model works, so, straight away, they are being aligned to the methodology of your own business. This thinking extends on top of the YEOTY and the benefits for Greenway Pepper are simply that we can look inside this model and take heart from it, and then hopefully be able to either use the framework and do it for ourselves or, in the short term, lean on KMF and use their facilities, which we are already doing with one of our apprentices.
Andrew Sims, UniLathe, adds: "When we were approached by KMF to become involved as a sponsor of the YEOTY project, we saw it as a superb way in which to put something back into the community. We also see it as an investment in our own future. As a medium sized business with 105 employees, we recognise the importance of developing new skills and enthusing the next generation of designers and engineers. The KMF YEOTY project is, therefore, something that we are happy to commit our time and expertise to."
Graham Jessop, Trumpf, says: "The Young Engineer of the Year is a great initiative for Trumpf to sponsor and we are looking forward to assisting and mentoring Haywood Academy students throughout the whole process. It's an exciting project and one that will give schoolchildren the opportunity to be involved in a fantastic venture that will enhance their learning development and hopefully aid their careers. It would be fantastic if it inspires them to consider a future in engineering. Congratulations to KMF for devising and driving forward this proactive project".
Wayne Rigby, Sure Retail Equipment, offers: "Sure Retail Equipment Ltd is proud to be involved in sponsoring KMF Young Engineer of the Year award, as it is a worthwhile project that develops young people. It provides them with an experience that will be invaluable to them in the future. As a result of our participation in the project, Sure Retails Equipment is now committed to investing in apprentices within its own business."