When our new year 10 students come to The JCB Academy one of the first things they participate in is a one week residential trip to Harper Adams University in Shropshire. It is here that students receive an introduction to their first engineering challenge, the “Harper Adams Challenge”.
When the students arrive back to the academy they continue the Harper Adams Challenge for the next six months. The challenge is an engineering based challenge where students take their knowledge and design and build a radio controlled (RC) car which is then put through a serious of checks and over a specially designed obstacle course. The students are given a variety of components and a 16 page construction manual and begin making the RC car. The chassis is made first, constructed from a piece of MDF by following a series of detailed drawings, cutting and drilling it into the require shape and dimensions. The steering parts are then glued together and connected to the chassis. Then the wheels and motor are added, wired up to the battery pack and it’s then ready for action. The finishing touch to the car is the body. Students have a ready-made mould that they vacuum form their body around using the forming machines in the academy’s workshops. The cars are then ready for testing, firstly around the academy to see if they are powered up and are running correctly before putting them on the purpose built Harper Adams University obstacle course. The course has a series of obstacles to test the cars performance and students then get to fine tune their vehicle over the coming months. Students can customise their vehicles by decorating the body and some even add lights to theirs.
On the day of the finals we had two representatives from Harper Adams University, Dr Simon Woods, Senior Lecturer/Nematode and Engineering Research and Mr David Clare, Senior Lecturer – Electronics & Mechatronics, who came into the academy to judge the competition along with the academy’s Principal, Jim Wade, Engineering Learning Manager, Kyle Hughes and Engineering Technician Kev Baldwin. A series of presentations and testing of the vehicles on the Harper Adams’ obstacle course forms most of the day with the winning team announced later on in the afternoon. This year’s winning team consisted of four students; Benjamin Wheatley, Cain Hullah, Samuel Barrett and Daniel Bradley.