Young engineers compete to become Lego robot champions

“As a University we believe that outreach work with local schools is a vital part of raising aspirations and informing young people about the future options available to them.”

Chris Wayman, Senior Lecturer in Engineering

School pupils from across the region will compete to become Lego robot champions in KMF's Young Engineer of the Year competition finals at Staffordshire University this week.

The annual event brings together education and industry to engage youngsters through engineering and promote career development in the STEM subjects. Staffordshire engineering company KMF launched the initiative in four years ago and previous competitions have seen school pupils design 3D printed gadgets and even launch balloons into space.

This year's competition has challenged Year 10 pupils to take part in 'The Lego Project' to build, program and test real-life robotics technology - taking inspiration from the worldwide First Lego League competition. The Gadget Show's Jason Bradbury will oversee the robot missions when winners of each heat battle it out in in the Lego Robot Games finals this Friday 16 June at Staffordshire University's LRV.

Chris Wayman, Senior Lecturer in Engineering, said: “We are really pleased to be working with KMF on Young Engineer of the Year again and it's been great to see the enthusiasm that the pupils have for this year's project.

“As a University we believe that outreach work with local schools is a vital part of raising aspirations and informing young people about the future options available to them.”

24 Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire high schools have taken part in the KMF YEOTY competition with teams receiving support and guidance from experts at Staffordshire University, Newcastle-under-Lyme College and many other sponsors to create and programme their Lego robots.

Chris, along with colleagues Alison Griffiths and Martin Paisley mentored three high schools throughout the competition – The King's CE (A) School in Kidsgrove, Alleyne's Academy in Stone and Madeley High School – which all have teams competing in the finals.

Gareth Higgins, KMF Managing Director, said: “This year the competition has challenged the students in a number of ways, the programming of the robots and the use of STEM related knowledge is very important. However, equally important are the softer skills the students have utilised this year. Teamwork, presentation skills and a demonstration of their core values will all be judged during the final on Friday.”

In the weeks leading up to the competition pupils have had to pre-programme their robots to navigate an obstacle course and complete designated tasks along the way. As part of this year's sponsorship package every school will have the opportunity to enter next year’s FLL competition with the aim of reaching the World finals in the USA.

The competition also includes group presentations and pupils have to demonstrate core values including 'Friendly Competition' and ‘Gracious Professionalism.'

Chris added: “The pupils learn robotics, engineering and digital skills but this also allows them to develop critical thinking and team-building. It's a fantastic atmosphere when the teams compete and we're really excited to be hosting the final on campus.”

Find more information about the event here. Follow the competition on Twitter @KMFmetal or using #YEOTY2017

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