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Students at a Hull sixth form college are equipping themselves with vitals skills for a career in engineering, thanks to Project Blyth, an innovative kit car initiative that is taking place in the Humber region.

A team of six students at Wilberforce Sixth Form College, in east Hull, have designed and built a single-seat IET Formula 24 + electric car, which has been funded by Green Port Hull. They will race the car around a circuit at Hull’s KCOM Stadium circuit on July 16th.

The car has been supplied by Greenpower Education Trust, a charity that inspires young people to think about engineering as a career. The team were challenged with constructing the chassis using a 10-page instruction manual, before developing the modular bodywork that will surround the framework and wiring the car to a battery.

Finishing touches are currently being made to the car, which can reach speeds of up to 40mph, ahead of a test race at Blyton Park, Gainsborough, on 24th May.

Jonathan Butler, Director of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) at Wilberforce College, commented:

“With the significant investment in renewable energy in our region, we are seeing interest in engineering grow, but there is still more work to be done in terms of encouraging young people to undertake STEM subjects and consider a career in the manufacturing and engineering industries. Project Blyth and our electric car are certainly sparking interest, especially at our open events, so we hope this will continue to attract more students.

“The team are working so hard to get the car ready for the race in summer, spending their lunch breaks and free periods modifying the bodywork and testing new ideas. It has given them confidence and has helped grow their engineering skills, which will stand them in great stead when they go on to take their next step towards a career in the sector.”

Project Blyth has enabled the students to develop a wide variety of skills, from computer aided design (CAD) and data logging on a Raspberry Pi 2, to fundraising, branding, social media and advertising.

Sam Brown, 16, from Burstwick, has been overseeing the electrical elements of the car, whilst his teammates Ashley Bamford, Jordan Bartley, Kevin Lane, Ben Selway and Charley Williams look after the design and build.

Project Blyth has enabled Sam to test his skills and provided an outlet for creativity while he undertakes his A Levels in physics, maths, further maths and chemistry. He explained:

“Studying for four A Levels is demanding on my time, but Project Blyth has provided a good escape for me to try out new things. I’ve always had an interest in electronics, buying micro controllers and chips and watching YouTube videos on what to make with them, so it’s a good way to put into practice what I’ve learnt.

“My ambition is to go on to university after leaving college to study chemical engineering, with a view to starting a career in design, specifically process simulation. Project Blyth will build my skills and experience, making me a stronger candidate for a degree course and employment.”

Ashley Bamford, 17, from Hedon, is studying Level 3 Engineering at Wilberforce Sixth Form College. He will be tasked with racing the car the team has built in July. He said:

“It’s been great to see the car develop since we started the build in September 2016 and we can’t wait for the first test day. Being a part of this project will be great for my CV when I come to apply for Advanced Apprenticeships next year.”

The Wilberforce College team, which is supported by five members of staff, raised more than £5,400 to fund the car. They also secured sponsorship from the team’s employer mentor, The One Point. The local telecommunications company are providing workplace inspiration and support for the students, including workplace visits, mentoring through the design and build of their car, and work experience placements. Employees from local signage company Designs Signage Solutions are also helping “wrap” the car.

Greenpower believes the unique, hands-on project will capture the excitement of motorsport to inspire young people from primary school through to university to excel in STEM subjects, helping to address the serious skills shortage of engineers faced by UK industry.

Vaughan Curnow, Project Coordinator at Greenpower Education Trust, commented:

“The team at Wilberforce Sixth Form College is a great example of how Project Blyth can build and enhance not only STEM specialities, but also entrepreneurial, design, project management and team working skills. It promotes community involvement and engagement, too, which has been demonstrated in the team’s excellent fundraising.

“The Royal Academy of Engineering estimates that the UK will need 104,000 STEM graduates per year, and 56,000 technicians, between now and 2020. Having a fun, real-life project to work on is the best way to spark an interest in engineering, which will, in turn, address this demand for skills.”

To see the progress of the Wilberforce Sixth Form College team, follow them on Twitter @wsfcgreenpower

For more information on Project Blyth, visit www.projectblyth.co.uk