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Prof Alan Day with the team from Upton Noble Primary School
Prof Alan Day with the team from Upton Noble Primary School
Prof Chris Jennison withthe team from St Dunstan's Community School
Prof Chris Jennison withthe team from St Dunstan's Community School

Press Release - 07 December 2004

University hosts national final of Robotics Challenge

Children from two West Country schools won through to the national final of an international robotics challenge, held at the University of Bath last week.

The competition is part of a campaign that is aimed at addressing the long term engineering skills shortage in the region by promoting science and technology to schoolchildren.

Up to 500 children aged 10 - 16, from over 30 secondary and primary schools in the South West of England, took part in the regional heat. The event, which proved to be the biggest of its kind in the country, was opening by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Glynis Breakwell. The winners, the 'Beast of Buckler's' team from Buckler's Mead Community School in Yeovil and 'Team SimpNics' from St Nicholas Primary School in Chippenham, beat hundreds of other schoolchildren in the exciting hands-on robotics competition.

John Trickett from Wessex SETPOINT says: "This year's South West Robotics Challenge was a great celebration of science and technology, when designs were put into action and robots of all shapes and sizes competed in a series of innovative challenges."

Organised by Wessex SETPOINT, the robotics challenge was part of the Advanced Engineering Skills Project (AESP) - a £4 million scheme designed to tackle skills shortages at all levels of the region's advanced engineering industry. The competition was part-funded by the South West of England Regional Development Agency, and designed to enthuse young people by giving them fun, practical experiences of engineering and science.

Barry Warburton, who is leading the Advanced Engineering Skills Project, explains the importance of the project, saying: "There is a real shortage of advanced engineering skills in the South West. Modern engineering relies on control systems and it is essential that students understand the application of robotics and are competent in using this technology. The robotics challenge helps introduce these skills to schools in a positive, interesting and exciting way and enthuse and motivate students towards careers in the advanced engineering sector."

Ade Adepitan, Children's BBC presenter and member of the Paralympic Wheelchair Basketball team for Great Britain, and Amanda Parr, BBC Points West presenter, were on hand to help the Deans of Engineering and Science present the prizes. Pictured right are (bottom) St Dunstan's Community School receiving second place in the Research Category from Prof Chris Jennison; and (top) Upton Noble Primary School being awarded first prize in Robot Design category from Professor Alan Day.

Notes The Advanced Engineering Skills Project (AESP) aims to enthuse young people about engineering, provide more understanding about maths and science and to give them enjoyable practical experiences of engineering. Set up by organisations that have advanced engineering at the centre of their work, the project is part funded by the South west Regional Development Agency, European Union and Learning skills Council. Further details are available from www.aesp-western.org.uk

Wessex SETPOINT, of the University of Bath, serves as a single, authoritative source of information for teachers about what local and national science, technology, maths and engineering materials and activities are available to enrich their teaching, and to offer both advice and assistance in delivering these activities to schools. SETPOINT is a member of SETNET, the national organisation for the promotion of science and technology, www.setnet.org.uk

FIRST LEGO League International is an international programme for schoolchildren aged 9-16, created in a partnership between FIRST and the LEGO company. Introduced in 1998, it is an annual 'themed' Robotics Challenge, with new Challenges unveiled to teams across the world each September. In 2003, over 43,000 children from 14 countries took part in the Challenge. For full details about the Robotics Challenge 2004, visit the FLL website at www.firstlegoleague.org

The South West of England Regional Development Agency was created in April 1999 to further the economic development and regeneration of the region; to promote business efficiency, investment and competitiveness; to promote employment; to develop the skills relevant to employment; and to contribute to sustainable development.