Global STEM competition makes first visit to the UK

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) skills of hundreds of budding young engineers will be challenged when they compete in a prestigious robotic competition for students organised by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), hosted at the University of Bath and sponsored by Bechtel.

Over 700 children aged 9-16 representing 36 countries from across the world will take part in the four-day STEM challenge taking place in the UK for the very first time this month.

The young engineers will compete in the IET’s FIRST® LEGO® League International Open Championship, held at the University of Bath between 21-25 June.  The event will also include the UK premiere of the 3D film, ‘Dream Big, Engineering Our World’ sponsored by Bechtel.

Teams taking part in the International Open Championship are challenged to build a robot using LEGO that can successfully tackle a series of missions, each representing a different aspect of animal-human interaction. The students will be required to demonstrate their skills in robotics, computer programming, teamwork, research, problem solving and communication, demonstrating the FIRST® LEGO® League core values, which include respect and inclusion.

Mandy Workman, IET Education Manager - FIRST® LEGO® League, said: “This competition is a fantastic way of inspiring the next generation of engineers and nurturing the relevant skills they need for the modern engineering workplace. Young people taking part also have an invaluable opportunity to collaborate with businesses as they develop innovative solutions to problems they have identified as real-world issues.

“We hear regularly about STEM skills shortages and gaps and the Institution of Engineering and Technology is passionate about highlighting to young people the excitement and creativity of engineering through the FIRST® LEGO® League competition. We’re especially pleased that more than a third of the students in this competition are female.”

Managing Director of Bechtel U.K, Paul Gibbs said: “We must improve diversity in engineering. Incredibly, only 9 per cent of engineers in the U.K are women - Bechtel employs double that but we’re aiming for equality. Where we work on Crossrail, 30% of our engineers are women. Our industry needs to get more actively involved in programmes like FIRST® LEGO® League to help young people understand the fantastic careers available to engineers and the impact that engineering can have on people’s lives, the environment, economies and communities.”

The event coincides with International Women in Engineering Day (Friday 23 June) during which the University of Bath is hosting around 80 aspiring female engineers from local schools to find out more and experience a taste of what it is like to study an engineering discipline at university. As part of their visit to Bath, the budding female engineers will hear from current female engineering students and staff, take part in a number of fun and challenging engineering-related tasks, and in the afternoon meet a number of the competing students at the FIRST® LEGO® League International Open Championship.

Dean of the Faculty of Engineering & Design, Professor Gary Hawley said: “The University of Bath is delighted to be hosting this vibrant and prestigious international robotics competition to celebrate young talent and inspire the next generation of leaders in STEM. We are particularly proud to be hosting this event in what is the first time the International Open Championship has been held in the UK.

“It is very fitting that the University of Bath is hosting an event aimed at inspiring future engineers. The most recent university rankings identified all of Bath’s engineering courses as being in the top ten in the UK, and the high quality research-led teaching our students receive mean they are some of the most sought after engineering graduates in the country.”

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