Over 450 students sent in their designs to be judged in this year’s Aluminium D&T Challenge, and last week it was finally time to meet our winners!
Nineteen pupils and their teachers travelled to Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum, to be presented with their prizes and to meet the competition judges and sponsors. For some it had been a very early start – the four winners from St. Ives School left Cornwall at 4am to get to Birmingham, and thankfully for our winners from Devon the trains were on time!
The Celebration Event is the culmination of the Alu D&T Challenge and the judges and sponsors all really look forward to meeting the students. The presentation ceremony was hosted by Nigel Gibbon, Managing Director of Hydro Aluminium Rolled Products, who invited each of the winners up to talk about their ideas and their winning design. The certificates were presented by members of the judging panel – all experts in that particular industry.
Our youngest winner was Molly Broome, a year 7 pupil from Barr Beacon School in Walsall. Molly, who was 11 when she entered the competition, was congratulated by Adrian Tautscher of Jaguar Land Rover. Adrian thought her bold ideas for the ‘vehicle of the future’ held much promise of a future career as an engineer. The first of two winning teams from Ysgol Glan-y-Mor in south Wales won the team prize in this category. Adrian praised the four girls, Rhiannon Sturgess Jacob, Jasmine Palmer, Jessie Leigh Craig and Jasmine Peters, for their detailed research into aluminium alloys, clear drawings and attention to the 6R’s of sustainable design. In fact all the winners in the vehicle category were girls: our runners up, Kirsten Hawkins and Julia Thwaites, from Colyton Grammar School in Devon, designed a vehicle inspired by a garden leaf blower which drew praise from the judges for its creativity and well communicated ideas, including detailed drawings.
Professor of Architecture Michael Stacey has judged all three of the Alu D&T Challenge competitions and thoroughly enjoys studying the finalists’ designs and meeting the budding designers and architects of the future. The winning team from Ysgol Glan-y-Mor, Charlie Hall, Rhys Rowlands and Ben Harris, impressed him with their artist’s studio which blended with the garden setting, featuring a leaf-shaped aluminium living roof which included a rainwater harvesting system. Ysgol Glan-y-Mor also had the runners up in this category, Wiktoria Swiatkowska, Carys Nurse, Nicole Vaughan Jones and Jasmine Peters. They had designed and modeled treehouse ‘pods’ which the judges felt would be a really ‘funky’ space to inspire a creative writer. Individual winner Ella Coulter, a year 8 student from Alderley Edge School for Girls, had created a photographer’s studio and in the process had decided she’d quite like to be a photographer when she finishes school. Our official photographer for the event thought her design was great, and wants one for his garden!
In the packaging category one school swept the board: St Ives School from Cornwall had the individual and team winner and the runner up. Credit must go to Ms Daemi-Rashidi, their teacher, who obviously inspired some creative thinking in her Year 9 pupils. This category was perhaps the most challenging, asking students to rethink and redesign a package that’s already in use. Thinking outside the box, literally, were Will Williams and Sam Barlow whose idea for an aluminium laptop box which converted into a table drew praise from the judges. Anyone who has tried to balance a laptop on their knee or on a fold down table on a train or plane would really appreciate their multi-purpose invention.
Individual winner in this category was Leon Andrews whose idea for a hard case for a child’s ukulele was simple but effective. It used aluminium as an alternative to the current plastic or fabric cases: to provide better protection and an attractive design; the judges liked the animal–themed ‘zookulele’ and thought they could see this product becoming a reality.
Everyone in the audience was impressed by runner up Maia Uys’s idea for a multi-purpose ‘help box’ – something that could be put to good use in war, refugee and natural disaster zones helping to supply vulnerable people with essential supplies. Maia spoke very passionately about her idea and won warm applause from everyone in the room.
The presentation ended with the announcement of the ‘grand prize’. This was for the individual designer judged to be the outstanding entry in this year’s competition. Nigel opened the silver envelope to a hushed audience and announced that Leon Andrews was the winner of an expenses paid trip to Germany. Here he will get the chance to visit the cities of Dusseldorf and Cologne, and see aluminium production at first hand at the Hydro Aluminium plant at Grevenbroich. The trip, which will take place in the summer, will be for Leon, his teacher Gizela Daemi-Rashidi and one of his parents. A slightly stunned Leon was delighted with his prize, and his mum, who was in the audience, was bursting with pride!
After official photos, video interviews and lunch our lucky winners still had energy to visit Thinktank and see the wide variety of interactive exhibits and displays before picking up their 3D printers and 3Doodler pens, vouchers and certificates and starting the long journey home.
Once again it was a pleasure to meet all our winners and the teachers who have encouraged and inspired their work. We hope the Alu D&T Challenge has given them confidence in their talents and to think about a future career in design or engineering. Meeting them has certainly inspired and re-energised us! Roll on the 2016/17 competition!