Young engineers from Plymouth are hoping their mini floating rescue craft will wow the judges of a national competition run by the Royal Navy (Thursday 10 March).
A team of three teenage engineering students from University Technical College (UTC) Plymouth are taking part in the Royal Naval Challenge – ‘Operation Antarctica’.
Cameron Atkins, 15, Will Williamson, 16, and Tylor Fryer, 15, of ‘Rescue Party’ are taking their twin-hulled barge to the Royal Naval engineering training base HMS Sultan near Portsmouth, to compete against UTCs nationwide.
The students’ engineering challenge, set by the Royal Navy’s red-hulled Antarctic research vessel Plymouth-based HMS Protector, is to replicate in small scale a radio-controlled rescue craft capable of retrieving objects off ice floes, on the ‘sea bed’ and on the ‘sea surface’ in a water tank.
The competition requires the youngsters to design and build the remote-controlled powered boats and onboard cranes, to demonstrate they can ‘salvage’ the objects in a mocked up mini sea with points awarded for each object successfully placed on board or on the ‘pack ice’.
Lieutenant Paul Youngman, Royal Navy UTC liaison officer, said: “This is a demanding but achievable challenge based on a realistic scenario involving HMS Protector in a floating ice field. They will benefit from mixing with other UTC students in the final.’’
He said there was a close relationship between the Navy in Plymouth and UTC Plymouth with mutual benefits: “There is a national shortage of engineers, so both the Navy and industrial partners Babcock are signed up to the STEM initiative to encourage students to study science, technology, engineering and maths. This challenge is the perfect way to inspire young engineers of the future who might even work for the MOD, Royal Navy and Babcock.’’
Phil Lucas, UTC Plymouth engineering teacher, said: “The students have found it extremely enjoyable and hope they do really well on this as they have worked hard on the design stage and the building and development. They have demonstrated their initiative and motivation through working out of school hours. I’m very impressed by their work.’’
Will, inspired by his engineer father, said: “I got involved in this competition because I really love engineering. I want to be an engineer – I’ve already signed up to the Babcock apprentice scheme and this project is the kind of thing I find most rewarding. Our strategy is to pick up lots of objects from the ‘ice’ and pick up lots of quick points that way.’’
Cameron said: “We entered last year in the same competition, but got nowhere, so we have learned our lessons and hope we do much better.’’
The teams qualified for the final by submitting computer-aided designs and a report detailing research completed, proposed testing methods and building costs. The teams will be spending one night on a former warship HMS Bristol in Portsmouth Naval Base ready for a full day’s competition.