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Case Study: Celebrating STEM successes


With last week being the 5th annual ‘Tomorrow’s Engineers Week’, aimed at helping to inspire the next generation of engineers, we thought we’d highlight a key STEM-based activity we’ve been involved in over the last six months.

Snowdonia Aerospace centre celebrating stem successes outside hangar

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) is an important part of our identity, and helping to inspire and engage with new talent is something we take great pride in. From the School’s Powerboat Challenge to International Women in Engineering Day, all the way through to attending events such as World Skills, future talent and engineers in the making are essential to our future. One of our recent activities for supporting future engineers has been through sponsorship of the IMechE (Institute of Mechanical Engineers) UAS Challenge 2017.

You may have seen stories over the last few months featuring the Challenge itself, held at a site we operate with Snowdonia Aerospace Centre in Llanbedr, Wales, as well as the Winner’s Day we hosted at QinetiQ Target Systems last month. However, the following case study gives us the opportunity to explore the full event and our involvement throughout 2017 in more detail.

Case study:

Supporting future engineers

QinetiQ sponsors IMechE UAS Challenge 2017

We were proud to sponsor the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) annual UAS Challenge; we provided a location for the event at the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre in Llanbedr, Wales and opened our doors at QinetiQ Target Systems (QTS) in Ashford to the winning team as a prize. The event gave the students an incredible experience of operating in a ‘real-life’ airfield, as well as showing the winners the benefits of a STEM-based career and what that can mean within QinetiQ.

Many STEM Engineers working in orange hi-vis vests in large open space

The brief

IMechE organise a competition known as ‘The UAS Challenge’ every year, in which University teams from around the world design and build Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). The teams spend an academic year working on their UAS, with specific mission objectives, to prepare to compete at a ‘fly-off’. In 2017, there were 22 competing University teams, from as far afield as Turkey and Egypt. IMechE needed somewhere to host the June ‘fly-off’, as well as something to offer the overall winning team as a prize.

Our solution

We became platinum sponsors of the event, providing IMechE with a location for its fly-off. QinetiQ, in partnership with Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, provided the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre in Llanbedr, West Wales, which provides access to the Wales UAS Environment, an incredible 7,100 square kilometre section of segregated airspace over Cardigan Bay, where UAS can fly in safety away from commercial and military aircraft.

The students competed across three challenges to test various elements of their UAS, including endurance and weight-bearing, all hoping to earn the prize of ‘Overall Champion’. This year, the overall prize, as well as the prize for innovation and design, was awarded to the University of Bath. As a reward, we hosted the winning University at QTS in Ashford for a day to provide insight into real-world engineering and demonstrate some of the career opportunities within QinetiQ.

Outcomes and benefits

By collaborating with Snowdonia Aerospace LLP and IMechE, QinetiQ was able to give the students the real-life experience of a fully-operational airfield. The sponsorship of the UAS Challenge also enabled us to provide them with a unique insight into the career opportunities available to those with a science technology and engineering background.