Lancaster University

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Cumbrian Pupils Make Waves

07/13/2007 11:03:59

Dr Nick Baker (right) 15 year old pupils Rosie Kelly, Lesley Walkden and Rebekah Wright
Dr Nick Baker (right) with 15 year old pupils Rosie Kelly, Lesley Walkden and Rebekah Wright

Fifteen students from Appleby Grammar School visited Lancaster University to try their hand at solving the world’s energy problems through wave power.

The event, hosted by the Engineering Department, was aimed at giving the students a taste for life at university and an idea of what engineering is all about.

After setting the students the challenge via a DVD shown in class, they were invited to the University campus for a day of mechanical design and testing. The challenge was to make a device capable of pumping water powered only by water waves. The devices were tested in Lancaster University’s wave tank, which is one of only a handful of UK facilities designed specifically to test new and innovative seafaring renewable energy devices.

The students worked in teams of four and were given some basic mechanical components, including a plastic bottle, bicycle pump and sheet of steel. They were given just two hours to make their machine. The project was inspired by the real life engineering problem of trying to generate renewable electricity using sea waves.

The scheme formed part of the Department’s work on raising the profile of the engineering profession in local schools.

The event’s organiser, Dr Nick Baker, said: “It is important for students to realise that there is more to engineering than looking at car engines. It is a solid career option and most of our graduates get snapped up by companies looking for strong graduates and offering competitive packages. As a nation there is a shortage of engineering graduates and we face serious problems which can only be solved by getting a strong supply of UK engineers. We hope that events like these will help persuade students that a career in engineering is worthy and interesting."

Teacher Simon Mumford was responsible for the school’s participation and is working very hard to make his students aware of the opportunities available to them.

He said: “I am involved with the continual struggle to encourage students to study science at post 16 education. Events such as today’s give students a taste of what is available to them.”

The scheme is set to run again next year as a competition involving other regional schools.