Schools challenge introduces teens to manufacturing

Future designers, engineers, manufacturers and marketers demonstrated their environmental credentials in Manchester recently. The 13 and 14-year-old boys and girls competed in teams to create, market and sell a world-beating eco-vehicle for land, sea or air.

Called the Make It Enterprising Schools Challenge, the event took place at Wellacre Technology College, Flixton, Manchester, which is one of the first specialist high schools in the country to offer the new Diploma in Manufacturing and Product Design (MPD). It was part of The Manufacturing Institute’s Make It in Manufacturing campaign to attract young people into the sector.

The challenge was set by the event’s sponsor, aircraft component maker The Hyde Group. Each team established a mini-manufacturing company for the day, with job roles from managing director and operations managers through to finance, sales and marketing managers.

They developed, designed and costed their ideas and then pitched them to a panel of business investment ‘dragons’ from The Hyde Group, and Salford University.

The winning multi-school team ‘Riot Rhino Police Protection’ developed a fuel-efficient crime fighting vehicle in the shape of a rhinoceros, with tracks instead of wheels so that it could manage all terrains.

Nicola Eagleton-Crowther, Make It campaign manager for The Manufacturing Institute, said: “The recession has demonstrated how crucial manufacturing and engineering are to our economy and it’s essential that we attract the brightest young people to work in the sector. The Make It campaign introduces teenagers to the real and exciting opportunities of modern industry. All the teams came up with some brilliant designs and marketing campaigns and we were delighted by their enthusiasm and performance.”

Derek Jones, from the development team behind the Diploma in MPD, said: “This was an exciting opportunity for learners to engage with industry. It was a fantastic event and one which we hope will inspire students to follow a career in the sector. Hyde Group is a well respected global engineering business and it comes as positive news to see them helping to develop the next generation of talented recruits as they rise through the Diploma in MPD.”

Chris Hatherall, deputy headteacher of Wellacre Technology College, added: “We ensured that we gave the young people at the event a real taste of manufacturing and product design. From this we hope to recruit some hot new talent to this Diploma course. Our first group of students are already rising to the challenge and mixing their principal learning, which covers business, enterprise, product design, materials science and production systems, with true sector experience through partners such as Robert Wiseman, Nampak, Papyrus and The Manufacturing Institute.”

Matthew Murray, human resources director for the Hyde Group said: “Global businesses like ours are knowledge-led and developing the next generation of talent is essential to our long term success. We hope to show the young people the reality of what a career in manufacturing is really like.”

At the end of the event 37 per cent of the pupils said they were definitely considering taking the MPD Diploma with a further 45 per cent saying they were interested in the qualification and would like to hear more. As well, 96 per cent of the pupils said that the day had improved their understanding of the range of jobs available in the sector.

Further information: (video)

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