Launched in 2012 the KMF Young Engineer of the Year Awards were hailed as a resounding success by students, teachers, parents and even local MPs.
The inaugural challenge was for students in Years 8, 9, 10 and 11 to design and manufacture a clock, using a standard mechanism provided by KMF (Precision Sheet Metal).
In that first year over 1,700 students, from 16 local schools, participated with the winners being recognised at a spectacular awards evening at Stoke City's Britannia Stadium, hosted by the enthusiastic TV personality Jason Bradbury.
Encouraged by the success of this event KMF Managing Director, Gareth Higgins has expanded the competition for 2013/2014 and partnered with The Greenpower Education Trust to challenge students in Year 10 to build and race, their electric powered car.
KMF, along with other sponsors, have purchased 18 kit cars, which have been supplied free of charge to the schools taking part. The sponsors are local and national businesses who have been encouraged to get on board with dedicated schools by providing technical and business advice along the way.
"The 2013/14 event was launched to an eager audience of head teachers and Design and Technology department heads on the 16th of July and the response was overwhelming with 18 schools signing up almost immediately.
The aim of this year's event is to expand the remit of the YEOTY awards and make it more business orientated and get the students involved from a very early stage," says Gareth Higgins.
"Each team will have 12 members; the students had to apply to become a member by submitting a CV and a covering letter explaining why they think they should be chosen to take part. We then shortlisted these applicants and interviewed each of them along with their school's sponsor."
Schools taking part in the KMF Young Engineer of the Year award will see significant benefits such as gaining strong links and extremely valuable resources, with their business sponsor.
The project aligns itself with OFSTED requirements, with each school being provided with lesson plans that meet the demands of the curriculum, and they can keep the car at the end to use for future activities.
Students also benefit by gaining an insight into engineering with hands-on experience and the opportunity to develop business and management skills and personal development.
While many companies have a corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda, KMF (Precision Sheet Metal)'s CSR is driven by a passion to enthuse young people.
"From a selfish point of view, we are hoping to enthuse enough students about engineering that they will consider an apprenticeship with KMF. However, it goes much wider than that, and this is why we are expanding the YEOTY and have invited companies from across the whole business spectrum to join us as school sponsors and become directly involved," says Gareth Higgins.
"We are pleased with the feedback that we are getting from the sponsors. The KMF YEOTY opens up opportunities for businesses to work closely with schools and in turn it makes students think about their future career path."
"We have a broad range of sponsors that range from a large food manufacturer, an insurance broking and risk management group to international brands such as Michelin and Wade Ceramics."
The 18 sponsors of this year's KMF Young Engineer of the Year are fully engaged with the process, dedicating time and resource to supporting their individual school.
The response from the schools and students to this activity has been enthusiastic, to say the least, with sponsors quickly realising the potential that this interaction can bring.
These are just some of the responses from sponsors to their experience and reasons why they became involved in the project:
- Ian McCartney, Wilson Tool International: "Like KMF, Wilson Tool has a long-standing and steadfast commitment to our apprenticeship scheme. We generally take two apprentices per year, selecting the best of the many applications we receive. I strongly believe that the Engineering industry can offer varied and exciting careers for the brightest young people. Programs such as KMF's YEOTY help to promote engineering as a potential career option for young students, giving them an insight into working as a team to complete an engineering project. The students will gain practical experience as they interview for a place on the team, and will develop team-working skills as they overcome engineering challenges and work to achieve a common objective. Wilson Tool shares KMF's commitment to promoting engineering with young students. With this in mind, we are planning to work closely with them on this project with a view to Wilson Tool running something similar in the Swindon area in the future."
- Greg Pepper, Greenway Pepper: "There is no better idea for modern engineering and recruitment of engineers than what KMF is doing with its apprentices and the YEOTY project. The idea of training your own apprentices from concept to completed item is perfect for your own business. This is because the young engineer will only be accustomed to your ways and knowledge of how your business model works so straight away they are being aligned to the methodology of your own business. This thinking extends on top of the YEOTY and the benefits for Greenway Pepper are simply that we can look inside this model and take heart from it, and then hopefully be able to either use the framework and do it for ourselves or, in the short term, lean on KMF and use their facilities, which we are already doing with one of our apprentices."
- Andrew Sims, UniLathe: "When we were approached by KMF to become involved as a sponsor of the YEOTY project we saw it as a superb way in which to put something back into the community. We also see it as an investment in our future, as a medium sized business with 105 employees, we recognise the importance of developing new skills and enthusing the next generation of designers and engineers. The KMF YEOTY project is, therefore, something that we are happy to commit our time and expertise to."
- Graham Jessop, TRUMPF: "The Young Engineer of the Year is a great initiative for TRUMPF to sponsor and we are looking forward to assisting and mentoring Haywood Academy students throughout the whole process," he says. "It's an exciting project and one that will give schoolchildren the opportunity to be involved in a fantastic venture that will enhance their learning development and hopefully aid their careers. It would be fantastic if it inspires them to consider a future in engineering. Congratulations to KMF for devising and driving forward this proactive project".
- Wayne Rigby, Sure Retail Equipment: "Sure Retail Equipment Limited is proud to be involved in sponsoring KMF Young Engineer of the Year award as it is a worthwhile project that develops young people. It provides them with an experience that will be invaluable to them in the future. As a result of our participation in the project Sure Retails Equipment is now committed to investing in apprentices within its own business."