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Budding engineers join special club

Children as young as nine have been getting to grips with 3D printing, coding and smart electronics thanks to a special engineering club in Bridgnorth.

The Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology (MCMT) teamed up with Black Country Atelier (BCA) to offer an action-packed menu of activities spanning five days.

Activities included designing and making a programmable Tamagotchi-style pet, constructing the widest bridges and tallest skyscrapers and the challenge of creating the best Rocket Car.

Fifteen young people - aged between 9 and 13-years-old - were supported by MCMT staff/apprentices and instructors from BCA to come up with ideas, work with hand tools and access some of the fantastic technology installed at the 36,000 sq ft facility on the Stanmore Industrial Estate.

“The skills gap has been well documented and a lot of time has been spent in engaging secondary school pupils who are considering what to do next after their GCSEs,” explained Matthew Snelson, managing director of the MCMT.

“However, what we have been missing is talking to the grassroots level, with children aged between 9 and 13. This a really key time before pupils make their subject choices, so we wanted to put on an exciting and challenging week that introduced them to STEM and the world of engineering and manufacturing.

“We need to inspire and show them that engineering can be a great career, that there’s lots of exciting technologies you can use and that you may just have an idea that will change the way we all live.”

The Engineering Club gave future engineers and scientists a fully immersive experience of design and engineering.

Children worked on several practical, hands-on projects throughout the week, using a full range of traditional and modern engineering tools, such as hand fabrication and finishing tools, Computer Aided Design (CAD), 3D printers and programmable controllers.

At the end of each day, there was a show and tell of their projects, a construction test and, as part of the initiative, a race to see which rocket car was the fastest. The results were presented at a special prize giving at the end of the week, where parents were able to see what their young people had been up to.

Matthew said: “We also arranged for engineers from local businesses to give various demos during the Engineering Club, ranging from the art of mechanics of classic car vehicle maintenance to advanced robotics and destructive material testing.

“I’m convinced that thanks to the club, we now have the next generation of engineers wanting to take subjects that will eventually lead to a successful career in industry.”

The Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology is based across two training centres in Shrewsbury and Bridgnorth.

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