Challenge 2013 smashes its targets

A campaign to get 2,013 primary school children working with Gloucestershire engineering and manufacturing businesses in 2013 has smashed its targets in just two months.

The Challenge 2013 campaign, which is run by GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership, aimed to work with around 40 primary schools and six county-based engineering and manufacturing businesses when it was launched in March with the hope of getting 2,013 school children interested in engineering and technology.

But the project has been so successful 2589 students have already been part of the programme, which has been rolled out in schools around the county.

Mike Curran, Business Sector Manager at GFirst LEP, said: “I am delighted that this campaign has already been such a resounding success. We wanted to encourage a future generation of engineers in the county and help to establish better links between schools and businesses; which has been done with fantastic results. Over the next few months other county schools will be able to benefit from the project and we hope we will surpass our target even further.”

The project includes an engineer from a local company going into school assemblies to tell them about robotics, computers and their job. Then a class of up to 36 students is able to take part in a whole day workshop, with the support of a local engineering company, to introduce them to computer programming.

The students will then use this knowledge to program a device which they have made from a construction kit. The best team of three students from each school will then be invited to visit a local company, based within their district, to learn how they use computers within manufacturing.

Helen Springett, head teacher at Winchcombe Abbey C of E Primary School, said: “The children had a fantastic day and achieved an enormous amount. The robots they made and programmed were superb and every single child was engaged throughout.”

Rhiannon Jones, teacher at St John’s C of E Academy in Coleford, said: “It was a wonderful day and all of them went home with beaming smiles on their faces. A lot of them are really keen to do more engineering as a result of it and we have already booked to do a similar day of events again soon.”

The project was launched after a study by GFirst LEP’s Advanced Engineering Sector Group showed that many companies in the engineering and manufacturing sector are finding it difficult to recruit.

A number of businesses involved in the group including Renishaw, Delphi, Moog and SPP Pumps have agreed to host visits for the winning students. The programme is funded by Gloucestershire County Council’s Grow Gloucestershire campaign.

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