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From a one-day STEM challenge to national Big Bang success

19 May 2016

Schaeffler’s focus on the development of young people in engineering is evident in its involvement to encourage the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Charlie getting his award

One of these initiatives is the See Inside Manufacturing Program, of which Schaeffler has been a proud supporter for several years. 

The company is also a sponsor of the Young Engineers charity and has worked closely with local schools to educate and encourage young people to consider a career in engineering. As part of this annual sponsorship, for the last four years Schaeffler has awarded the Duke of York’s Rose Bowl for the Best Creative Use of Technology, and has organised and attended numerous STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) Challenge days at local primary and secondary schools local to the manufacturing site.

Schaeffler UK is also actively involved with the EESW (Engineering Education Scheme Wales), devoting time and resources to successful project work with local school children. Schaeffler also provides work experience opportunities to undergraduates at Swansea University. Managing Director, Roger Evans MBE, is a Council Member of the University of Wales Trinity St David’s and chairs the Welsh Automotive Forum.

Case study

Glan-y-Môr School in Burry Port, Wales, is a secondary school that is benefiting from support provided by Schaeffler UK’s Llanelli plant. In July 2015, a team of pupils from the school won the ‘Transport Award’ in the National Teen Tech Finals. The winning ‘A Brains’ team comprised of three boys – Charlie Hall, Bradley Webb and Lewis Ellar, who developed an idea for a sensor guidance system for wheelchairs, which gives wheelchair users more independence and freedom.

Paul Griffiths, Project Coordinator at Schaeffler UK commented: “Our initial involvement with Glan-y-Môr School came from a Young Engineers’ session that we helped to run at the school in 2014. The school were impressed and invited us back to a ‘Theme Day’ where we helped to judge ideas from teams of pupils who wished to be selected for Teen Tech. The judges shortlisted these teams down to four and Schaeffler was asked to mentor one of these teams.”

In December 2015 a team from the school won the Regional Lego League Competition run by EESW and went on to represent South Wales at the British and Irish Finals at Loughborough University in February. For this competition the pupils had to use a combination of engineering and computer programming skills to build and program a robot to carry out a series of set tasks. Also in February the school scooped two of the three team prizes for the National Alu Challenge. Jasmine Palmer, Rhiannon Sturgess-Jacob, Jasmine Peters and Jessie Leigh Craig all aged 14 won the single person vehicle category with their design for a combination of recumbent bike and small car.

In March 2016, the school claimed two prestigious national STEM Awards at the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham. The school was awarded the Young Engineers School of the Year, as well as the prestigious Broadcom Award for 14-year old pupil Charlie Hall. Charlie will join two others to form Young Engineers Team GB for a visit to Intel ISEF, a major STEM conference in Phoenix Arizona in May 2016. Charlie was also an integral part of the winning School of the Year team, who not only impressed the judges with the range of STEM activities they had been involved in, but were also the youngest team to represent their school at the finals.

“These team successes have all stemmed from a single Theme Day held at the school 18 months ago, which shows just how important it is for businesses like Schaeffler to provide support and guidance to local school children and to help promote engineering as a career,” added Griffiths.

Susan Quirk, teacher at Ysgol Glan-y-Môr School commented: “The Big Bang awards are the culmination of eighteen months of hard work, which has seen the school reach the finals of five national STEM competitions, taking first place in three of these. It’s been a remarkable achievement and we thank Schaeffler for its ongoing support during this time.”

Winning these prestigious awards marks another huge step forward for Ysgol Glan-y-Môr; three years ago the school sat close to the bottom of the Welsh Government Banding table with just 30 percent of its pupils achieving five A* to C grades including English and Maths at G.C.S.E. Last year the school had doubled that figure to 60 percent.

“As a school, the performance of our pupils relies heavily on building and maintaining strong partnerships with local businesses such as Schaeffler, who provide much-needed advice and guidance and help the children understand what it’s like to work in real engineering environments and the skills they will need to do this.” 

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