I was very pleased to have the opportunity to attend the finals of the UK Aerospace Youth Rocketry Challenge (UKAYRoC) on 3 June. This event, organised by ADS and the Royal Aeronautical Society, has been running annually since 2006. The Challenge, aimed at secondary school children, is to design, build and launch a model rocket with a fragile payload (an egg) and the rocket must reach a set altitude with specific total flight duration landing, of course, with the egg intact.
I was hugely impressed by the skill, commitment and enthusiasm of the young people and their teachers in all of the 20 competing teams but special congratulations go to the winners on the day, James Hornsby School with “Team Terminator” who will be heading off to Paris to compete in the 2015 International Rocketry Fly-Offs later in June.
The UK event took place in Essex at Stow Maries airfield which is the only remaining Great War airfield in England and I am looking forward to returning there in July to meet with the Trustees to hear of their plans to conserve the airfield’s heritage while developing educational projects and visitor attractions.
The involvement in the UKAYRoC is just one of the contributions through which the Society aims to inspire young people. Cool Aeronautics are one day events for school groups aged 8-10 which include talks on aerospace, aviation and intuitive workshops promoting STEM. It is a fantastic opportunity for school students to understand a little more about aviation and open their eyes to some exciting possibilities ahead of them.
The Society has participated with a family radio station “Fun Kids” to create Amy’s Aviation, a radio and animated series aimed at 8-12 year-old and their parents. Amy will teach you how to make a paper aeroplane, how jet engines work and explain what satellites are, among many other topics.
And, of course, our bigger programme for secondary school students is the Schools Build-a-Plane challenge supported by Boeing. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the students to gain experience in project management, understand design processes and have hands-on access to tools and equipment. A documentary can be seen on YouTube.
For older students the Society’s Careers and Education team work closely with external partners to support and co-ordinate an ever growing range of activities, including careers information, advice and guidance, and recruitment fairs. In support of some of these activities, the Centennial Scholarship Fund provides support to university students, early career researchers, youth programmes and other aerospace, aviation and STEM related projects.
The UK is facing an unprecedented shortage of Engineers in the coming years. During his Sir Sydney Camm Named Lecture at the Society on 8 June, AM Sir Baz North, RAF Air Member for Personnel and Capability, estimated that this could amount to a shortfall of 1.2 million by 2022. I am proud that the Society is working hard to play its part in helping to turn around this worrying position through active promotion of an exciting and rewarding future for young people in aerospace.
Martin Broadhurst OBE MA CDir FIOD FRAeS