Thursday 30th April 2009 by C. Freeman
Students from Brooke Weston came up with an ingenious device to solve a real engineering problem. James Doherty, Diana Gormley, Ilse Lee and Edward Lockwood were given their Engineering Education Scheme task by an engineer at Corus.
They had to come up with a quick way of replacing blades that trim off excess weld during the tube-making process. When the current one snaps it takes time to change, leading to increased material wastage. The Brooke Weston students devised a tool where a replacement blade can be easily swung into position. At the Regional Engineering Education Celebration day in Nottingham the Sixth Formers explained to a panel of experts how they developed the rotary tool. They presented a model and computer-rendered designs, as well as a 30-page document outlining the design process.
The Engineering Education Scheme is an annual event where school teams are 'mentored' by engineers from industry who set them an initial problem.For the past six years Corus and Mr Barrett have overseen teams as they have developed ways of lifting tubes, wiring lamp-posts, sampling chemicals and other processes which take place at Corus.
The final prototype.
Mr Barrett said: 'Each year the students are so different and when you see them succeed at a real life project at probably degree level, you just realise the capability of the students and what a journey they go through. It's actually dealing with a real-life problem, with proper engineers as we go to the site and have a look at what's going on. It's just an incredible experience and they get so much out of it, either for their CV or for the university application; it's a brilliant process and the students this year have probably been my best and strongest team; it's been a pleasure to work with them.'
The students are now in line to receive the BA Crest Gold award which is a nationally recognised accreditation scheme for project work in science and technology for students aged 11-19. Its aim is to encourage students to take a problem-solving stance when tackling scientific or engineering problems and to encourage them to consider careers in these areas.
The students who are selected for the EESE scheme each put in about 100 hours of work and research, in addition to their normal studies. This year the engineers at Corus worked on their own version of a cutting blade and they may even incorporate some of the ideas used in the Brooke Weston model in their finished tool.
The final prototype in use.
Mr Barrett said: 'We are incredibly grateful to Corus for the help and support they give our students on the EESE scheme. Their expertise, input and enthusiasm are key to the success of this venture and their on-going support each year is much appreciated.'
Student Edward Lockwood said: 'Throughout the project it was really surprising to see how much the team achieved. We started out being set a problem which we really didn't have any idea about. After visiting Corus and speaking with their engineers, the problem we were faced with became much clearer. After lots of discussion, designing and testing we found a solution which not only the team were proud of, but even impressed the Corus engineers.
'Not only did we have to create a report on the work we were doing, but create prototypes, present our ideas and attend an assessment day involving creating and running a display stand. It hasn't been an easy project, but certainly a very interesting one and gave the whole team a real life experience of industry. Personally, I have found this a very valuable and enjoyable experience and I would certainly recommend this scheme for students when they are in Year 12.'