The South West of England final at the University of Bristol marked the third year of this regional challenge

Finals of schools’ regional electronic engineering challenges take place

University of Bristol and Leonardo host regional finals of the UKESF Go4SET electronic engineering challenge

School teams discuss their projects
School teams discuss their projects

A hundred and twenty school pupils took part this week in the two regional finals of the UKESF Go4SET electronic engineering challenge, in the South West of England on Tuesday 18th and the East of England on Friday 20th. Twenty teams of 12–14-year-olds all rose to the challenge and showcased their innovations and practical models for the smart electronic products of the future.

UKESF is working in partnership with the EDT on the Go4SET ‘Our Electronics Environment’ project to enthuse pupils in Year 8/9 (England) and S2 (Scotland) about STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and highlight the exciting careers to which they can lead. Participating schools select six pupils for their team, who are linked to a local company for sponsorship and mentoring over this ten-week, hands-on engineering experience.

The South West of England final at the University of Bristol marked the third year of this regional challenge. Six schools entered, with Ridgeway School’s team of boys and girls winning Best Overall Project for their EE Bag. The EE bag helps students remember their books each day by registering them with an enclosed scanner that reads internal RFID cards in the books. The team was linked with Dialog Semiconductor. Supported by CSR, an all-girl team from The Castle School was awarded Most Innovative Project for their S-bin, an electronic device to aid individuals with recycling by identifying and sorting their rubbish.

Chesterton School demonstrate their project
Chesterton School demonstrate their projectSelex

ES hosted the final for the East of England challenge, which was launched just last year. Nine schools entered, but Best Overall Project was taken by a team from Denbigh School. Linked with Kerrco Automation, the team devised an app called ‘Connecting the Classroom’ to improve communication within their school. Mentored by ARM, Chesterton School’s team won Most Innovative Project for Robocow, a pocket-sized device to monitor air quality.

Learning in an industry context is the core of the Go4SET project, which encourages pupils in their personal development and creativity through support from their schools and sponsoring companies. There is immense value for employers who take part in projects like this, as the young pupils they engage with today have the potential to become the top engineering graduates of tomorrow. UK engineering enterprises currently employ 5.4 million workers – a fifth of all people in UK enterprises – and collectively turn over £1.17 trillion per year,* but as the number of applications to study STEM subjects at university continues to fall, the risk rises that the UK will lack the qualified engineers to maintain and grow its global position in the sector in the future.

Through the Go4SET ‘Our Electronics Environment’ project, UKESF aims to address the shortfalls for electronic engineering by facilitating employer engagement with schools and providing an enriching experience for pupils. Both employers and schools can get involved.

*Engineering UK Report 2015, p. II