The UK engineering sector is full of talent and it’s growing. The question is, how do you attract the next generation of innovators and creators? The Greenpower Education Trust may just have the answer. We caught up with retired Engineering teacher Alan Beardmore and Greenpower CEO Jeremy Way to find out more about this inspirational project to get more young people into engineering.
“Engineering in the UK has changed massively over the years,” says Alan. “Traditionally it’s been seen as a bit staid and dominated by men but now more of our students, including many girls, are going on to study engineering at university. The key is to get them excited about the subject at a young age.”
Creating an exciting project to inspire the next generation of engineers is exactly what the Greenpower Education Trust aims to do. Originally set up in 1999 by Sussex-based engineer Barry Shears, it challenges young people to design, build and race a single-seat electric car. It was born of Barry’s determination to give school pupils practical engineering experience in order to encourage new, young engineers to enter the profession. The first race was held at the nearby Goodwood Motor Circuit and was an instant success.
Alan first became involved with Greenpower in 2002 when the project was promoted to his students at the all-girls Sandbach High School. They enthusiastically signed up and they’ve been involved ever since, proudly becoming Greenpower International Finals champions in 2008, 2010 and 2016. Now retired, Alan is currently helping the Sir Thomas Boughey High School with their electric car design to begin racing next year. “I’ve been involved in many initiatives over the years but Greenpower is the only one that’s really worked in generating real enthusiasm for the subject,” says Alan. “Dozens of my students have studied engineering and now work in the sector because of the Greenpower project and that is fantastic.”
The key to Greenpower’s success is that it gives young people an exciting, real-life project to develop their engineering skills.
“It’s about pure enjoyment,” says Greenpower CEO Jeremy Way. “Working in a close-knit team, problem-solving, being creative, competing – it brings out the best in young people and they see engineering in a whole new light. They see that it can be fun!”
It certainly is fun – and practical too. Students develop a broad skillset, which includes learning about aerodynamic design and how to use composite materials, which are vital to race success as it’s in the design and materials where teams can differentiate their cars.
Every car team has the same motor and the same batteries. The car that clocks up the most laps of the race circuit in 90 minutes on one set of batteries is the winner. Therefore, it’s essential that the cars are made strong and durable, yet as lightweight and aerodynamic as possible.
PRO-SET® epoxy is perfect for infusing the lightweight polystyrene honeycomb structure that many teams now favour. Always looking to develop an edge, Alan was told about PRO-SET epoxy through a shared contact of West System International technical expert David Johnson. The WSI team were only too happy to donate some products and offer professional advice, so that the pupils can learn how to get the best results from working with epoxy.
Alan believes that collaboration with industry experts such as WSI plays a key role in inspiring the next generation of engineers. “Having highly skilled professionals share and transfer their knowledge is so important in developing students’ engineering skills,” says Alan. “It means students get access to the very best learning and they can see what types of career paths are open to them.”
Alan and the Sir Thomas Boughey ‘Spitfires’ team will start working with PRO-SET products in the new year and we’ll be closely following their progress. Here’s to a great race season for summer 2017!
Our thanks to Alan Beardmore and Jeremy Way for their contributions.
To find out more about the Greenpower Education Trust, visit www.greenpower.co.uk
If you would like technical advice on any aspect of PRO-SET epoxy use, contact one of our experts.