Excitement as Mid Sussex STEM Challenge takes off for second year

DM1893572a.jpg Launch of Stem Challenge at Mid Sussex District Council. Photo by Derek Martin Photography SUS-180920-185653008
DM1893572a.jpg Launch of Stem Challenge at Mid Sussex District Council. Photo by Derek Martin Photography SUS-180920-185653008

The Mid Sussex STEM Challenge for 2019 has been launched, promising to be even bigger and better than before.

The inaugural event saw teams of Year 9 students from three schools design and create an electric bike and pitch their products and business plans to a team of judges in a Dragon’s Den-style showdown.

This time it’s been opened up for more schools to participate. The eager teams are tasked with designing and building a drone, which will be put through its paces at the finals due to be held in the spring.

They’ll be supported through the process by mentors from the business community, who will be hoping to inspire the next generation of engineers, designers, radiotherapists and technology experts.

The challenge is aimed at encouraging interest in the STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and maths - which are much needed by industry.

A celebration was held at the offices of Mid Sussex District Council on Thursday (September 20), when the challenge was officially launched by High Sheriff of West Sussex Caroline Nicholls. She congratulated the organisers of the event, and told the students it was vitally important for them to embrace STEM to meet ‘the many challenges ahead’.

“What’s going to happen when the oil runs dry? What new technology is going to come through? What’s the potential for artificial intelligence?” she said. “We need to recruit 30,000 people into STEM courses each year - that’s one in three of you.”

She was joined by executive director of Colas Limited Donna Hitchcock, Mid Sussex District Council leader Garry Wall, and Bruce Forbes, Chairman of MSDC, who are sponsoring the challenge, together with the Mayors of Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath.

Nick Green, general manager of Flowserve revealed the task to the students and told them they’d be working within very tight restrictions governing the use of drones.

“At the final your drones will fly around an obstacle course, picking up pictures which will be transmitted to a big TV screen so the judges can watch,” he said. “You’ll build your business case to bring the drone to market and get coaching and training along the way.”

Peter Karmios of Bike Smart, came up with the idea of focusing this year’s challenge on a drone. He said: “We wanted something that would show dramatic results, and was suitable for their age and ability,” Peter said. “They’re very much up to the challenge and will have a lot of fun doing it.”

Chairman of Haywards Heath Town Team Ruth de Mierre said: “How fantastic it is to see our Burgess Hill schools join those in Haywards Heath for this year’s Challenge; I’m hoping future years will see this roll out even further to help bring high value jobs to match the skills of our students.”