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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Feeding the imagination of the engineers of tomorrow

WEST Cumbria’s future engineers have been given a priceless insight into the industry thanks to a local engineering company.

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GETTING TECHNICAL: Children building flying saucers during the Science Festival for Youngsters at Westlakes Science Park in July

REACT Engineering held its 13th annual Into Engineering Week event last month, which allowed year 12 students to experience life as a real engineer while working alongside the firm’s professionals.

This year’s group was testament to the demand for places on Into Engineering Week, with a mix of both local students and some from out of the area.

Students from Cockermouth School, St Benedict’s School in Whitehaven, Kirkby Stephen and Settle all took part.

During the week the teenagers were given the task of solving a nuclear-related problem. They then had to present their findings to a panel of judges at the end of the week.

The judging panel included Concorde engineer Ricky Bastin and Phil Jardine, business development director at Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster.

Ricky Bastin said: “I couldn’t wait to get involved in Into Engineering Week – REACT is doing amazing things to promote and support engineering for young people.

“The students have been given some complicated problems which has meant they’ve used their logic and lateral thinking to finish the project, which is crucial when it comes to real engineering.

“I have been working alongside the students during their projects and I have been extremely impressed with the standard of work and capability they have.

“This country has sold itself short in the industry for a long time and yet we still produce the best scientists and engineers.

“As a result we are desperate for engineers in this country, especially as we are beginning to see the development of new high speed fleets and planes that can fly from London to Sydney in two and a half hours.

“It would be nice to one day see a leading engineer who started out on the Into Engineering Week scheme, here at REACT.”

Luke Manchon, 17, a student at Cockermouth sixth form, said: “It’s been a challenging week but it’s not often you get to experience engineering first hand like this.

“I’ve really enjoyed working as a team with the other students and listening to Ricky talk of his experience at Concorde.”

St Benedict’s student Sam Heslop, 16, said: “The highlight of the week has been presenting our projects to the REACT panel and listening to Ricky’s talk about his career in engineering.

“I want to become a mechanical engineer and getting a place on a scheme like this is pretty rare - where else can you get free experience working alongside professionals such as these?”

Cockermouth student, Ben Morgan, 17, said: “Ricky’s presentation has been a highlight for me. His expertise is amazing - the whole logic of engineering fascinates me.

“It has also been a nice change to work in teams, listening to other people’s views.”

Simon Hamilton, 16, from St Benedict’s, said: “Taking part in the scheme has given us a better insight into engineering than what you would usually get in school.

“The team at REACT have been giving us critical advice which has really helped us during the week.”

Mark Williams, project manager for the Into Engineering Week scheme, said engineers from REACT enjoyed supporting the students with their tasks throughout the week.

“The calibre of students has been excellent and they have really taken on the task and come up with some fantastic projects,” he said.

“The week is all about encouraging industry particularly locally and the fact that we have students coming from outside of the area to take part in the scheme is testament to its success.”

The Cleator Moor firm also invited Ricky to talk about his work and opened the invitation to all local schools. The lecture on The Magic of Concorde – gave an understandable yet insightful look at the feat of engineering that was Concorde.

Over 100 pupils from local schools attended the lecture that was held during the Samuel Lindow Foundation’s Cumbria Science Festival.

Ricky Bastin was involved with the legendary aircraft for over 37 years. During his career he has written a book on the air intake system for British Airways, and has been at the heart of BA Concorde operations for the whole service life of the aircraft.

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