land rover engineering finalsBUDDING car designers showed they had the drive to succeed after being nominated for a judges’ award for being the youngest competitors in the national finals of a prestigious competition.

For the second year running, students from Barnard Castle School competed in the final stages of a model 4×4 design contest run by global car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover.

The team of Year 7 and 8 automotive experts were nominated for the judges’ discretionary award in a competition won by sixth formers.

At the regional heat in Newcastle they also competed against much older students securing the judges’ discretionary award, giving them a place at the finals, which were held at Silverstone, the spiritual home of Formula 1.

The Land Rover 4×4 in Schools Technology Challenge is an international contest aimed at key stage 3, 4 and 5 students in school and young people aged 11-19 in any out of school initiative, such as STEM Clubs, Scouts, Cadets, Guides or Youth Clubs.

The challenge involved team members working together to design and build a radio controlled 4×4 vehicle, to set specifications, that could successfully negotiate a specially designed test track that emulates real life and what a full scale off-roader could achieve.

The challenge provided the opportunity for young people to work in teams and gain an awareness and understanding of project management using key skills.

Barnard Castle School students spent months honing and perfecting their car, which was made from wood and plastic and included parts manufactured with hi-tech 3D printing.

This year’s team is led by Matthew Forster, Year 8 team leader and design engineer, with Tristan Te Lintelo, Year 7 electronics engineer and CAD, Jack Hatton, Year 7 modification engineer and test driver, Oliver Allison, Year 7 research and presentation designer and Ben Thompson, Year 7 resource manager.

After the regional heat they worked to improve their 4×4 vehicle fitting it with automatic headlights, improving axle articulation, reducing weight and ensuring it was water-tight so the electric motor didn’t short.

Judges assessed their performance based on driving technique, technical knowledge, a design portfolio and organisational and presentation skills.

The team also had to negotiate sponsorship deals with Propipe, Thompson Builders and Reeth Garage.

Design technology teacher Phil Oakley said: “All the team are interested in careers in engineering and this competition has helped them develop their skills, including teamwork and project management.

“They have been using technologies such as the Solid Works computer aided design software, laser cutters, 3D printing, electronics and programming. With a national drive to push STEM, this competition was an ideal opportunity to encourage the next generation of engineers, which are so badly needed for this country’s future prosperity.”

Jack said: “Our family has a Defender, a Range Rover and a Discovery so it has been great for me to create my own Land Rover using some of the latest techniques. It was amazing going to Silverstone and competing against much older students.”