Royal Grammar School

Newcastle

Subsea team win in Aberdeen

Subsea team win in Aberdeen

A group of budding engineers from Year 9 recently travelled north to Aberdeen for the Subsea UK STEM Engineering Challenge national final where they were crowned national champions.

The team of Jiawen Dong, Abi Tang, Aidan Ewart, Philip Daniel, Sandric Andriychenko, Katy Read and Faizah Ashraf, designed and created a floating wind turbine and were judged to have been the only team that addressed all aspects of the design brief. Their competent presentation left the judges equally impressed and unable to come up with any questions regarding the design and build of their model.

Abi and Jiawen give us an overview of the competition and their time up in Aberdeen, visiting the BP headquarters and the Aberdeen Science Centre:

Having won our regional heat of the Subsea UK STEM Engineering Challenge with our underwater vehicle (made from LEGO), which was programmed to lay down cables underwateras if on a sea bed if it were to be made into a larger scale model, we were invited to the national finals that were held at Subsea UK in Aberdeen.

For the finals, our challenge was to design a wind turbine that would generate enough energy to power a home and make a prototype of it. To begin with, we [the team] met twice a week, discussing designs and making a start on our model. Like every successful team, we made mistakes, but we quickly resolved these and carried on working.

We were up nice and early on the day of the final, with a meet time of 5.30am at Newcastle Airport, and we were allocated pieces of our turbine to preserve for the journey ahead. Following a 50-minute plane ride, we landed in the Granite city to be welcomed by the sun. 

We were taken to the Sand Dollar Cafe where we devoured our breakfast and met two other teams. While we were at the cafe, we briefly rehearsed our presentation, running through our pre-written script and referring to printed copies of the PowerPoint before setting off to the Aberdeen Science Centre. 

On arriving at the Science Centre, we were astounded by the wondrous exhibitions, which we were able to explore and play with for the majority of the morning. Then the time came for us to complete the most important task on hand, which was to piece together our wind turbine. Unfortunately some of the components had been altered during the trip, but we managed to make do with what we had. 

It was time for the opening welcome of the competition. Following a quick introduction, the judges drew names out of a hat for the order that the turbines would be tested in. Luckily, or unluckily, we were first. The models were tested in a test tank and ours, unfortunately, failed the first time round. We quickly headed to a temporary workshop to fix what needed doing, taking the opportunity to improve it slightly so that it would float by itself and be anchored to the tank. However, it still didn't generate as much power as we had hoped.

The second half of the day was hosted by BP. We arrived at their headquarters, being greeted by Paul Benstead, who explained to us his career in subsea engineering following a short lunch. 

There was then another draw to see who would present first. As luck would have it, it was us, again! After the presentation, the panel of judges (with representatives from SMD, Oceaneering, SAAB, Subsea UK and BP), asked us questions to get a clearer understanding of our product.

In our pitch, we commented on the unique selling points, the cost, anchoring and buoyancy, aerodynamics, blade design and the problems we faced. We also gave the judges a copy of the design sheet, advertising poster and our manufacturing log. 

Following all the teams' presentations and a brief photo session for the teams, we were given the results. All the hard work paid off; we'd won! Our team worked so hard and the effort put in was seen by the judges.

After being congratulated by the judges, we were interviewed by a local newspaper who were reporting on the event. They asked us some questions about the whole process and how we felt after being told we'd won. There was lots of pictures taken outside BP on the field, before it was time to head to the airport and back to Newcastle.

On the plane, the flight attendant was nice enough to ask how the competition had gone and we were lucky enough to go into the cockpit and meet the pilots.

We'd like to thank all the EDT teackers, especially Mr Warne, Mr Wilde and Mr Bickerton, for all their support throughout the competition. We would also like to thank Subsea UK for organising such an amazing event, and to BP, SMD and BEL Valves for sponsoring the finals day. Lastly, we'd like to say well done to all the other teams invovled in the finals; Helston Community College (Cornwall), St Andrew's RC Secondary School (Glasgow), Portsmouth Grammar School and Sutton Grammar School (Surrey).

It was a brilliant opportunity for us young engineering enthusiasts to really test our teamwork and skills.