An initiative that aims to encourage more youngsters to go into engineering by partnering them with a company as part of a design challenge has been pronounced a resounding success by Master Cutler Pam Liversidge.
The Innovation Challenge was organised by Business and Education South Yorkshire and funded by the Cutlers’ Company Grassroots Fund through South Yorkshire Community Foundation.
Youngsters taking part in the challenge were matched up with a manufacturing company that gave each of them a project brief that involved developing a product to be used in the workplace.
A team from Westfield School won the challenge by coming up with a new design of plate stand for William Beckett Plastics.
Tinsley-based William Beckett specialises in making high quality plastic packaging for cutting tools, but also has a subsidiary that makes display stands and hangers for collectable plates.
William Beckett product design engineer Sam Kersley said: “We were blown away in a refreshing way by the concept they came up with.
“It has been extremely successful for both the business and the students.
“The feedback from the teachers, students and the students parents has all been very positive. It seems to have struck a chord with them all.”
William Beckett is now examining ways of turning the Westfield School team’s design into a manufacturable product.
Other companies involved in the challenge included Darnall-based DavyMarkham, which asked pupils from King Ecgbert School to create a portable storage cabinet to house some of the firm’s measuring equipment.
Thomas Giles, 13, said that the competition had really inspired him towards a future working as an engineer.
“DavyMarkham presented us with a brief and we made the entire structure ourselves. Actual construction only took about two weeks, as we worked around lessons, before and after school,” he said.
“We’ve used techniques and developed skills that we have never had to use before. DavyMarkham set the task but we created it independently ourselves. We have used a range of different processes that will help us with our GCSEs next year and enable us to get extra marks in our coursework.
“I’ve developed the skills to put on my CV and that is great. I want to be an engineer when I am older and I have gained so much from this project.”
Davy Markham’s apprentice training manager, Pete Kerfoot said: “I think it is fantastic what they have achieved.
“I’m sure that in years to come they can apply all that they’re learning now in to engineering and manufacturing. I’ve been at Davy Markham 41 years this year and I’m sure some of these young people could look forward to the same length of service that I have enjoyed.”
Master Cutler, Pam Liversidge said: “The Cutlers’ Company is absolutely delighted to have been able to support such a worthwhile project that has been a resounding success.
“Young people will really form the bedrock of the manufacturing sector in South Yorkshire for years to come and it is great to see the high level of work produced through the Innovation Challenge.
“Through the Cutlers’ Company Grassroots Fund at SYCF we are able to direct charitable support towards projects having a visible and tangible impact on the future of the sector and we look forward to supporting many more projects in the future.”