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A Glimpse Into Military Careers: Young People Take On Engineering Challenge

Seventy teams from around the country competed in Exercise Downbird Recovery.

Hundreds of 14 to 24-year-olds have been taking part in an engineering challenge at HMS Sultan in Gosport.

It was designed to show young people how careers in engineering, technology, or maths can lead to opportunities in the military.

Seventy teams from around the country competed in Exercise Downbird Recovery with the same mission -  to design and build two vehicles.

The participants honed their designs and were given 24 hours to make them.

The first had to be able to travel across a 10-foot square pool of water.

The second meanwhile had to be launched by the first, and be able to cross terrain and rescue a stranded Royal Navy Helicopter.

The participants honed their designs and were given 24 hours to make them.

One of the big tests was a timed rescue mission - judged by military personnel – with their teachers and senior officers from all three services looking on.

HMS Sultan in Gosport provided the venue for the challenge.

The young people came from University Technical Colleges, whilst some apprentices came from defence firms.

Eaton apprentice Sam Forster said:

"I've enjoyed the camaraderie really with getting to know things, and being able to design it yourself - it's been really good."

Danny Sutton WMG Academy for Engineers, Coventry said:

"So it's been really helpful in the STEM area; I've been able to use lots of different machines that I wouldn't be able to usually.

"I've done lots of CAD modelling, I've done lots of other stuff like that, all in this one project which has done really well."

"The whole thing's been a learning exercise because we have had to change things and design things from scratch, and work as a team to get it done before today, and it's just been really tough but the challenge has been fun", said Liam Bullard from Peterborough University Technical College.

Practical competitions like this take the theory and put it into practice.

Former Education Secretary Lord Baker, a keen advocate of University Technical Colleges, was also there to support the event.

"It is an amazing competition, and look at the enthusiasm with these youngsters from 14 to 18, they are very very ingenious, they are very clever, they're very determined.

"These are just the sort of young people the country needs."

"We're massively short of engineers, and the Navy is also short of engineers, so we produce a lot of apprentices for the Navy at 18."

Commodore Andy Cree, Education and Training Royal Navy, said:

"A lot of the solutions today demonstrate real ingenuity and innovative thought to turn concepts and designs into reality and make them work."

Practical competitions like this take the theory and put it into practice – exactly the skills needed by Royal Navy engineers.

It is hoped that some of those who took part will be inspired to join-up and pursue their engineering careers with the senior service.