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Young engineers impress with vision and teamwork

The Final of the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s national Faraday Challenge – an annual competition to encourage more youngsters to study and consider STEM careers – took place at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in June, with IHEEM as the year’s ‘theme partner’.

The Final of the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) Faraday Challenge – an annual competition to encourage more youngsters to study and consider science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) careers – took place at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in late June. A team from St Aidan’s High School, North Lanarkshire, won, with a device designed to help overcome young patients’ reluctance to eat and play while in hospital. The 2021-2022 Challenge saw IHEEM as the main ‘theme partner’ – the first time a professional engineering institute has had this honour. HEJ editor, Jonathan Baillie, reports. 

First run by the IET in 2009, the Faraday Challenge is an annual competition of STEM days for children aged 12-13 held in schools across the UK, and is – as the IET puts it – about ‘getting them to really experience what it’s like to be a team of engineers’. With a long-standing shortage of young entrants to engineering, the Challenge aims to stimulate interest in a wide range of engineering roles among young people starting to think to about their career options, but who – in many cases – may be unaware of the extremely broad spectrum of opportunities that exist. The IET explains: “Young people participating in the Faraday Challenge work – during their Faraday Challenge Day – on a real-world engineering problem, exploring some of the challenges faced by engineers today. The engineering theme and field of engineering change every year.” Past competition ‘themes’ have ranged from aerospace to theme parks, and from space exploration to railways. Students work together in small teams to design and build a prototype and present their findings for judging

The IET adds: “The days are set up and run by a STEM professional, and are free to schools. Support is provided by the Challenge Leader, but the emphasis is on students working as a self-directed and motivated team, navigating beyond their comfort zones, and being challenged to explore their own solutions.” 

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