Budding Engineers are ready to hit the heights at RAF Cosford balloon launch
May 12, 2016, is a really big day for 23 Staffordshire schools as they prepare for lift off with their weather balloon.
The schools are all competing in the annual KMF Young Engineer of the Year (YEOTY) competition, now in its fourth year.
This year competing schools are tasked with launching a capsule attached to a weather balloon, to a potential height of 33km.
Their individually designed capsule will contain two GoPro cameras, a GPS tracker and electronic equipment to carry out experiments of their choice.
The launch takes place at the RAF Cosford Museum with the cooperation of the RAF who are one of the many sponsors.
Each of the schools involved is matched to a sponsor who provides the finance and support for them to work up their ideas for capsule design and experiments ready for the launch at Cosford.
Abi Betteridge, RAF Museum Cosford Public Events Manager, said: "We are thrilled to be hosting our first Young Engineer of the Year project at the RAF Museum, Cosford. It's been a pleasure to be involved in such a unique and innovative project, inspiring the next generation of young engineers. We look forward to seeing the balloons launched from the airfield at RAF Cosford, as they take off on their journey into space."
Due to reduced air pressure at altitude, the weather balloons will burst at a height of around 33km. The schools then have the task of locating their capsule on its return to Earth, using GPS tracker software.
The launch is coordinated by Sheffield-based Sent Into Space who specialise in weather balloon launches. Sent Into Space director Dr Alex Baker said: "The competition has been a fantastic experience for us as well as for the schools involved. This launch will be the largest number of balloons we have ever sent up at one time since we started our business in 2010."
Sara Buckley, project manager from Staffordshire University who is sponsoring three schools, commented: "We have been involved with YEOTY since 2012. This year's competition has really captured the imagination of students and sponsors alike. It fits perfectly with the University's goal of inspiring and enabling the next generation of scientists and engineers."
Jenny Conlon, training manager at KMF, said: "For KMF the competition is all about encouraging young people into engineering and inspiring them into wanting to go into science, technology, engineering and maths subjects. It's also an opportunity to promote alternative career options, such as apprenticeships."
Dan Lambert, teacher of Design and Technology at Birches Head Academy commented: "YEOTY is a fabulous opportunity for students as it helps develop key skills like team working, improvisation and leadership. Working with KMF and our sponsor, Staffordshire University, gives the students a real insight into just how rewarding further study and a career in engineering can be."
Competition judging will take place in June for categories including best capsule design; best experiment; best project video; highest altitude; best photograph and an overall prize for Young Engineer of the Year.
Prizes will be presented at a gala awards ceremony on 7th July at the King's Hall in Stoke-on-Trent.