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Coleg Menai hosts Sixth Form engineering competition workshop

Students from the college and local schools created their prototypes as they tackled real-life engineering challenges set by industry partners

Coleg Menai recently hosted the latest stage of the annual EESW Sixth Form Project for budding engineers in north west Wales.

Each year, the Engineering Education Scheme Wales (EESW) invites schools and colleges to take part in the project, which sees learners aged 16-18 tackle real-world engineering problems.

The six-month project starts in October, when students are organised into teams, each of which is paired with an engineer from an industry partner. This link engineer briefs the team on a problem faced by their company, which the students research in order to find a solution.

After developing their ideas, the teams are then invited to a workshop, which this year was held at the Energy Centre at Coleg Menai’s Llangefni campus. At the workshop, students designed and created their prototype ready for an assessment day in the spring.

Students from Coleg Menai, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and Ysgol Friars in Bangor attended the workshop. Each team will produce a report on the project, including their ideas, design development, proposed solution and cost analysis. They will also deliver a presentation to their link company prior to the assessment day, before their achievements are recognised at an awards event in the spring.

Through taking part in the project, students deepen their understanding of engineering, gain confidence and improve their problem-solving, team-work, report-writing and presentation skills. It also enhances their CVs and UCAS applications, and they can apply for a Crest Gold Award, which recognises contributions to a STEM field of study.

Link companies involved in this year’s project are:

  • Ore Catapult
  • TATA Steel Shotton
  • First Hydro
  • Bangor University Product Design
  • CK Tools
  • Network Rail
  • Toyota
  • Ifor Williams
  • JCB Transmissions
  • Wrexham University Product Design
  • Mott MacDonald
  • Gwynedd Council
  • Aberystwyth University

Dawn Wilde, project delivery coordinator for the EESW Sixth Form project in North Wales, said: “The idea is to give the students real-life skills. The learners meet with their industry mentors, and by Christmas they’ve channelled down to one idea, and they’re now making prototypes of their idea.

“It benefits the students, and it benefits the industry as well because young people can often think outside the box and they’re finding solutions to real-life challenges. It’s a very competitive world out there, and when the learners go for interviews for apprenticeships, for work or university, some of these experiences give them a leg-up.

“They’re learning soft skills - working in teams, how to help each other and how to use individual strengths to get an end result.”

Shaun Holdsworth, Head of Faculty for Design & technology and ITC at Ysgol Friars, was at Coleg Menai for the workshop.

He said of the project: “It gives the students great insight into being creative and innovative, working in real-world contexts. They work on a live project, present that project, write an academic report, and it provides those learners with vital skills.

“The students enjoy it, and they realise that they do have the skill set required. They find within themselves that ‘actually I can present, I do know more than I’m supposed to know, and I am vital to this team’.”

Shaun praised the engineering facilities offered by the Energy Centre, saying: “We have good facilities in our school but not to this degree. We’ve got our 3D printers and our lathes but the facilities in the college are great. It’s vast, open, clean, spacious, it’s fantastic.”

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