Merthyr School pupils win South Wales Engineering Competition

Pupils from Afon Taf High School, Merthyr Tydfil have been rewarded for their engineering skills in a competition run by Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Wales Cymru.

Afon Taf High School Head Teacher, Cliff Smith, DT Teacher, Emma Davies, ICE Wales Director, Keith Jones, ETC Chair ‘15, Evette Slinger, Deputy Minister for Skills & Technology, Julie James AM, ICE Wales Chairman, David Rowlands with the winning team.
Afon Taf High School Head Teacher, Cliff Smith, DT Teacher, Emma Davies, ICE Wales Director, Keith Jones, ETC Chair ‘15, Evette Slinger, Deputy Minister for Skills & Technology, Julie James AM, ICE Wales Chairman, David Rowlands with the winning team.

The Afon Taf High School Year 9 pupils competed in the Engineering Team Challenge against 22 other schools from across South Wales. The competition was held at several venues across South Wales late last year including the University of South Wales, Parc Y Scarlets, Swansea University and Cardiff University.

The Engineering Team Challenge is designed to inspire pupils to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM subjects) as well as give them an insight into how rewarding a career in engineering can be. This year the main activity was based around Coastal Engineering, to show an aspect of Civil Engineering which is a vital part of our infrastructure, as unfortunately recently demonstrated around the UK. Over 300 school pupils took part in the Challenge of producing an optimum Coastal Structure to defend a model village, town and energy suppliers from a tsunami wave.

The team from Afon Tâf High School produced a design for the costal defence structure which very effectively defended the model town from the destructive tsunami wave. Combined with their great performance at the ‘cardscraper’ activity (making the tallest tower out of play cards), they gathered more points than any other team throughout the week to become the south Wales Engineering Team Challenge 2015 overall winner. Each pupil received individual cinema tickets as their prize and the school was presented with a trophy by the Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James AM who said:

“I’m delighted to award Afon Taf High School Year 9 pupils with their Engineering Team Challenge trophy and prizes. I have to say I was extremely impressed with their design and their evident enthusiasm for the Challenge.

“The Welsh Government is committed to increasing the number of young people that study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. Competitions like the Engineering Team Challenge are a great way of encouraging young learners to develop an interest in these subjects which have the potential to lead on to highly skilled and well paid careers”.

Cliff Smith, Headteacher at Afon Taf High School said: “I am extremely proud of the way our pupils performed in this competition. Such opportunities can spark a pupil's interest in having a career in engineering.

“We are fortunate at Afon Taf High School to have an outstanding engineering and technology department with state of the art facilities and teachers who both inspire and motivate pupils to achieve their full potential."

Emma Davies, Head of Design and Technology and STEM Co-Ordinator at Afon Taf High School said: "The event was absolutely fantastic. It really gave the pupils an insight into engineering and what a career in the sector would involve.

“The coastal engineering activity was challenging, but also fun and the tour of the university raised their aspirations and lots of the pupils expressed an interest in studying engineering at degree level. It is fantastic that an all-female team won the challenge as I have been actively promoting the subject as an option for the girls to take at GCSE level. I feel that this has given them the confidence to do so.”

Keith Jones, Director ICE Wales Cymru added: “Civil engineering is a diverse, fascinating and exciting industry, where you can literally shape the world in which we live and make a real difference. We – engineering institutions, industry and academia – must do more to show this crucial generation of schoolchildren, their parents and their teachers, the range of opportunities on offer. Schools also have a duty to lead the drive in overcoming outdated perceptions about careers in engineering, and ensure they are accessible to all.

“It is estimated that engineering companies will need nearly 200,000 people a year with engineering skills by 2022. This means we need to double the number of apprentices and graduates entering the industry. This is the scale of the challenge we face, and this is why collaborative, inspirational competitions like Engineering Tea Challenge are so important.

“Civil Engineering is a fascinating and rewarding career and it is a delight and pleasure to work with pupils at schools to show them how civil engineers help the infrastructure of Wales.”

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