Children inspired engineers at the South West Leaders Award exhibition held at UWE Bristol

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The winners of the 2019 Leaders Award gathered at UWE Bristol for the South West awards ceremony on Friday 14th June.

The competition challenged children to answer the question: ‘If you were an engineer, what would you do?’ by identifying a problem that engineering could solve, and devising a solution.

From magnet wielding helicopters that tow broken down cars skyward, to surveillance parrots that alert wildlife trusts to hunters – the children’s designs tackled a great diversity of problems in modern society.

Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Chris Skidmore joined UWE Bristol Vice-Chancellor Steve West and MOD DE&S Air Marshall Julian Young to congratulate those who entered the competition. While the competition launches by using online interviews with real-life engineers to inspire the children, they all agreed that in the end it’s the children’s designs that inspire engineers!

Throughout this year, engineers in EDM have been supporting the competition, by grading 4385 entries, and taking part in the final judging panel. UWE Bristol is the South West regional supporter alongside Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) – the Ministry of Defence’s procurement organisation.

The ceremony finished with a flourish, with student engineers Katy O’Hara Nash and Miriam Cristofoletti from the EDM WISE society, presenting the prototype they have made based on the winning design from last year’s competition. The system, designed by Year 8 pupil Philippa Griffiths, displays variable red lights on the back of a vehicle to alert other drivers of the severity of the braking and levels of attention needed.

Dr Lisa Brodie, Head of Department for Engineering Design and Mathematics said:

“We are always inspired by the children’s designs for the Leaders Awards. This year our female engineering students have gone one step further by actually taking a design, and building a prototype. It shows the passion and ingenuity in our region, both from local children, but also our own students. Through these public events we want to demonstrate our commitment to developing STEM technologies and a highly-skilled workforce which can enhance our future together.”  

The prototype, along with this year’s shortlisted entries, were on display on Saturday 15th June at the University’s Exhibition and Conference Centre (ECC). Hundreds of visitors of all ages were able to try it out, as well as taking part in exciting STEM activities provided by the MOD, Aerospace Bristol, and UWE. The displays included having a go with drones, Lego Mindstorm, and a virtual reality tour of the new Engineering Building.

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