Grove Academy and NCR have recently completed a project where pupils have been able to gain invaluable experiences of practical engineering. Working in partnership together, 6th year pupils and NCR staff have taken part in the 2018 MATE international ROV competition .
The competition involves pupils being tasked with building underwater robots – also known as remotely operated vehicles or ROVs – to teach science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) and prepare students for technical careers.
The aim of the project is to:
- Engage students in STEM and expose them to science and technology careers
- Encourage students to develop and apply technical, teamwork, and problem solving skills
- Provide funds, materials, and technical expertise to support student learning provide industry with skilled individuals who can fill workforce needs
Last year, Grove Academy’s Technical department were keen to try something different and offer a new and exciting opportunity for their 6th year pupils. In a bold move, the school decided to scrap its Advanced Higher Graphic Design Course and offer pupils the chance to take part in a practical project based engineering competition. The school felt, through internal staff discussions and conversations with various Universities, that the Advanced Higher Graphic Design course was not preparing pupils adequately to what they would be required to do at first year university level and that pupils wouldn’t gain any real benefit, other than the qualification. They suggested that what would be much more valuable and beneficial for pupils would be to gain experience of practical engineering and develop team working/communication skills and deliver a project to a deadline. So the school embarked on the MATE programme.
In order for this project to be successful, the School needed to link with an organisation who could provide this support and expertise and replicate a ‘real life’ working environment for pupils. Our DYW Team got to work immediately and through tapping into our contacts and networks engaged NCR, who were really keen to support this exciting new initiative.
Pupils were given a tour of NCR’s premises prior to the start of the project which was fantastic, and it gave them the opportunity to learn more about what NCR do as a business and meet experienced professionals. Four of NCR’s engineers from their Hardware Engineering team then supported the project throughout the full academic year, communicating with the pupils directly in school visits and also over email/telephone when required.
After a year of hard work and many successes and challenges, the pupils pulled together as a team to successfully build their ROV. The ROV works completely underwater and can carry out various complex tasks such as moving and lifting objects of various weights.
This was a great achievement for the pupils involved as they had never been involved in a project like this before. They were able to understand the theory of engineering extremely well, however putting it in to practice was another matter altogether and they struggled to begin with. Another thing that was new to the pupils was working together as part of a project team where each individual was responsible for a part of the project and accountable to the wider team. This replicates a real life working scenario perfectly as working together in teams to meet set deadlines is a key requirement of any industry.
After a period of adapting to this new way of working, the pupils overcame all of these challenges and thrived as individuals and as a team.
Scottish & International Competitions
To put this project in context, thousands of Schools and Universities from around the world enter the competition. On 25th April 2018 the pupils from Grove Academy competed in and eventually won UK leg of the competition hosted in Aberdeen, and will now compete in the International Competition in Seattle in June! A fantastic achievement and experience for the pupils involved to go to the USA and compete with students from all over the world!
For the pupils involved in this project, the impact and benefits are enormous. Not only are pupils learning how to apply practical engineering to their learning in the classroom, making them more aware of both the basics and intricacies of engineering, they are also developing various other skills. They have learned to run the project as a business would, by taking on different roles, developing a business plan, brand name and a launch plan for their ROV. The ‘soft’ skills that they develop through a project like this are also invaluable. Communication, team work, listening, compromise, patience, confidence and resilience are all key aspects of development that the pupils have gained throughout this year that they simply wouldn’t have been able to replicate in a classroom scenario. Feedback from the pupils has been great and they have all said that they have really enjoyed taking part in this project and have developed their confidence and understanding of engineering in a way they didn’t think possible.
From the Teacher’s perspective, Jack Waghorn, PT Design & Technology at Grove Academy said “The whole project has been invaluable in developing pupils for the workplace in a real way and the current team are working their socks of in preparation for the international competition in Seattle. The link up with NCR was invaluable and the real life experience, honesty and professionalism that the NCR team supplied was vital in the success of the project. I have seen my pupils come on so much throughout the year and develop not only their engineering skills but their confidence and communication skills from working as part of a team, which is just fantastic to see for a teacher. I would also like to thank NCR for offering to fund two pupils to go to the finals in Seattle, which is an incredible gesture that we are extremely grateful for.”
From NCR’s perspective, engaging with Grove Academy has been excellent for their staff and has helped with their own personal CPD. Each staff member involved has really enjoyed imparting their knowledge and expertise and communication with the pupils throughout the process. Adam Crighton, VP Financial Services, NCR said “NCR are pleased to support Grove with their ROV project. We are keen to develop young talent and encourage students into careers in science, technology, engineering and maths. The students have developed a fantastic ROV and we can’t wait to hear how they fare at the Final. We will continue to partner with Grove and support this initiative next year.”
Our DYW Team was delighted to be able to facilitate this partnership between Grove and NCR as you can clearly see the benefits for everyone involved. This project is another excellent example of bringing real life practical learning into the classroom and engaging an employer to provide this expert support.
We look forward to forward to working with Grove Academy and NCR as this partnership continues to develop next academic term and we want to wish all of the pupil’s good luck for the final in Seattle!
If you are an employer who would like to work with education in some way, or a teacher who would like to engage with industry to benefit your pupils, then please contact our DYW Dundee and Angus team who will be able to advise and guide you through the process.