UWE Bristol to host regional heats of national robotics contest

Issue date: 25 May 2016

Dozens of young robotics enthusiasts will descend on the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) for the regional heats of a national competition.

Nine teams of 10 secondary school students from across the South West will compete in the Tomorrow's Engineers EEP Robotics Challenge on Friday 27 May.

The participating teams will show off autonomous LEGO robots they have built and programmed themselves to complete a series of 'space missions'. From assembling the crew to launching the satellite, they will demonstrate their skills to a panel of judges.

The 11 to 14-year-olds have also been challenged to research, design, plan and present their own solutions to a contemporary scientific problem - developed by LEGO Education with NASA.

Being staged at the UWE Exhibition and Conference Centre between 10am and 1pm, the event is one of nine regional heats being held ahead of a national final in June.

Students will get an exceptional opportunity to see inside the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), a world-leading centre for robotics and autonomous systems based at the university.

Dr Corra Boushel, a Project Coordinator at UWE Bristol, said: “UWE Bristol has an undergraduate degree in robotics, as well as offering related courses in Computer Science, Electronic or Mechanical Engineering, so for us it is crucial to support younger students in discovering these exciting topics. We want them to realise that robotics is something that they can be a part of, that they can be good at it and that robotics has a future for them, right here in Bristol if they want it.”

Of the competition, she added: “Students get to apply their creativity, enthusiasm and knowledge to complete the challenge. It's an opportunity for lateral thinking, problem solving and team work, as well as a chance to really push themselves.”

The Tomorrow's Engineers EEP Robotics Challenge introduces student teams to real-world engineering, technology, robotics and computing challenges. The challenge aims to help students put their school learning into context and discover exciting new careers.

Each of the 100 schools taking part received free LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) resources worth £2,000. The challenge events are the culmination of a ten-week extra-curricular or in-school programme where students learn how to complete the space challenges with the help of structured activity plans and learning software.

Research from EngineeringUK, which runs the challenge, has revealed that raising awareness of engineering careers to young people is vital for the future of the British economy.

EngineeringUK chief executive Paul Jackson said: “In order to meet the country's demand for engineers we need to double the number of graduates and apprentices entering the engineering industry.

“Programmes such as the Tomorrow's Engineers EEP Robotics Challenge aim to help young people from all backgrounds understand the variety, excitement and opportunity presented by a career in engineering.”

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