Teams from five secondary schools battled it out to claim the crown in this year's Mid Sussex STEM Challenge.
Students from Oathall Community College, St Paul’s Catholic College, Crowborough’s Beacon Academy, Burgess Hill Academy and Downlands Community College met at the South of England Showground at Ardingly on Friday to show the results of months of hard work.
The brief given to each school team was to research a specific use for, build and market a drone – with an operating range and camera transmission range of 500 metres and a flight duration of 15 minutes. The drone had to be for a specific sector of their choice, include additional accessories to allow development of a business plan and marketing strategy in order to meet all legislation as well as take it to market.
Companies from the town team’s Burrell Road Action Group, whose members include engineering and medical employers, worked with the schools and colleges, together with Engineering UK and STEM Sussex to monitor and support the students.
Teams of judges were on hand to see how the teams handled the drones in flight and how they presented their business models.
After an exciting but blustery morning, which resulted in a few drones being blown off course and needing emergency repairs, Beacon Academy and Downlands Community College were chosen as the finalists, and had to pitch their ideas and answer questions from a panel of 'Dragons'.
In the end it was Beacon Academy's vision for a drone service to help farmers manage their livestock that won the day.
Chairman of the Haywards Heath Town Team Ruth de Mierre said: "Just to thank all you incredible students and your teachers (Pete, Sarah, Sophie, Helen and Richard) and a round of applause and gratitude to our Town Team companies and their STEM ambassadors who have worked so hard to ensure the success of our STEM Challenge. To Nick and his team at FlowServe, to Peter and his team at Bike Smart, Roger at the Nuffield, John and Jack at at PSM Marine and Lisa and the amazing Simon and Rob at Lloyds – a big Thank You to you all. With our growing population, it’s vital that we attract more high value jobs to the area and, to do that, we need the genius and creativity of our young generation; today we’ve seen just how amazing they are so the future looks very bright in their hands!
"We’re also enormously grateful to Mid Sussex District Council for supporting our Event, to Haywards Heath Town Council and Rotary for their fantastic support and to the South of England Showground for their generosity; of course, today wouldn’t have happened without the efficiency of Sally at MSDC who is so much more efficient than me so a big thank you to you too.
"Finally, our heartfelt thanks to all our judges and, particularly, to our ‘Dragons’ – Caroline, our wonderful High Sheriff, the lovely Donna from Colas, Nick May, Deputy Chief Constable, Gavin Watts, Chief Fire Officer and Jim Davison from EEF; you had the unenviable decision to make and we’re grateful it wasn’t ours!
"It’s been an amazing journey once again and we’re hoping you all might want to take part again next year when we’ve had an even more exciting idea for our next STEM Challenge and are hoping it might encompass even more colleges. In the meantime, here’s to a great, exciting and successful future for you all!"
Nick Green, manager of FlowServe, said: "It's been another successful year. It's been fantastic to see the enthusiasm of the children and the creativity of their projects and everybody participating in a great day."