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Countess Gytha Primary School watching their robot at the 2004 challenge
Countess Gytha Primary School watching their robot at the 2004 challenge

Internal News - 24 November 2005

University hosts pupils’ robotics challenge

Up to 1,000 children from over 60 primary and secondary schools will be coming to the University next week (28-29 November) to take part in the annual Lego robotics challenge organised by Wessex SETPOINT.

The event is designed to give young people fun, practical experiences of engineering and science, and this year’s challenge theme is ‘Ocean Odyssey’.

Pupils will use robotic technology to complete a practical assignment, where their robot completes specific ‘missions’ including ‘Clean up a Cargo Ship Accident’, ‘Release the Dolphin’, ‘Service the Pipeline’ and ‘Find and Recover Archaeological Artifacts’.

The pupils have been designing, building and programming Lego robots ver the last eight weeks in training for the event - that is the biggest of its kind in the country.

Students will also present a prepared research assignment where they have been asked to create innovative solutions to improve the use of an activity that impacts the oceans’ health, biodiversity and productivity.

The event will be compered by TV presenter Michaela Strachen, who is currently filming a new series of the Really Wild Show. She will be joined by TV presenter and international wheelchair basketball player Ade Adepitan, who is well known for his appearances on BBC ONE advertisements.

Organised by Wessex SETPOINT, the robotics challenge is 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 and is part-funded by the South West of England Regional Development Agency (RDA).

John Trickett from Wessex SETPOINT explained: “This is a great celebration of science and technology, when designs will be put into action and robots of all shapes and sizes come together to compete in a series of fun and innovative challenges.”

Barry Warburton, who is leading the Advanced Engineering Skills Project, said; “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 will help introduce these skills to schools in a positive, interesting and exciting way and enthuse and motivate students towards careers in the advanced engineering sector.”

Bob Fluellen, South West RDA Advanced Engineering Sector Advisor, agrees: “Despite being the region’s second largest sector and worth around £5 billion GDP to the regional economy each year, engineering is facing a long-term skills shortage.

“As an RDA one of our aims is to ensure the region has the right skills for lasting economic success. We are delighted to be able to support the Advanced Engineering Skills Project and the robotics competition, which will encourage young people’s interest in engineering and help to ensure the region has a good supply of skilled engineers for the future.”

The panel of judges, made up of University academics and science and engineering ambassadors from local industry will present awards in a range of categories from technical design to teamwork. Winners of the South West Challenge will go on to the national finals where they get a chance to progress through to the international finals.

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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 of England Regional Development Agency, European Union and Learning skills Council. .