Robotics event to inspire young engineers

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A robotics event to inspire young people to follow a career in engineering is to be held at the Museum of Science and Industry, in Manchester, UK on 13 November.

The day has been organised by the Processing and Packaging Machinery Association’s charitable trust PPMA BEST, with support from the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA) and British Automation and Robotics Association (BARA).

Schools are invited to attend the free event, targeted at year 11 students, where they will be encouraged to take part in an engineering task using Lego Mindstorms Education EV3 core set and system.

The activity will engage students in a computing, technology, engineering and maths challenge. It will encourage them to build, program and test their solutions based on Lego building elements combined with real-world robotics technology.

The UK has a skills shortage in engineering, which PPMA BEST has been set up to address through education and training. Established in 2014, PPMA BEST offers a series of programmes including financial grants for engineering apprenticeships, match-funded bursaries for engineering undergraduates and STEM days for secondary schools.

Machine vision is part of this problem, and machine vision companies generally find it difficult to recruit engineers with vision experience, largely because machine vision is multidiscipline. In an article for Imaging and Machine Vision Europe, written last year, Peter Bhagat, CEO of UK vision lighting company Gardasoft, commented: ‘You’re talking software, optics, electronics, automation, among others. Trying to find people that can cover all these disciplines is very difficult.’

Speaking about the event, Laura Pickering, education and development coordinator at the Manufacturing Technologies Association, said: ‘The MTA strongly believes in inspiring the next generation of engineers, and is proud to be collaborating with BARA and PPMA BEST on this STEM day. We are also committed to closing engineering’s gender gap, so we welcome the fact that the young people taking part in this event will be an equal mix of boys and girls.’

Danny Reed of PPMA BEST added: ‘The day is designed to inform students about the future career and education opportunities, while encouraging creative thinking and enterprise skills.’

The event is also supported by Kuka Robotics, Industrial Cadets, Siemens and Renishaw. Katherine Johnson, marketing manager at Kuka UK, commented: ‘Through supporting the BEST STEM event, Kuka hopes to guide these young people and share best practice knowledge and experience in the field of robotics as they embark on their respective challenges.’

All participating schools will have a chance to win one of the Lego Mindstorms Education EV3 core sets, worth £370.

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