When our new year 10 learners 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 learners receive an introduction to their first engineering challenge, the “Harper Adams Challenge”.
When the learners arrive back to the academy they continue the Harper Adams Challenge for the next six months. The challenge is an engineering based challenge where learners 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.
When the learners start the project build they are given a variety of components and a 16-page construction manual, they then begin constructing the RC car. Stage one is constructing the chassis, by following a series of detailed drawings, learners cut and drill the single piece of MDF into the require shape and dimensions. The steering parts are then glued together and connected to the chassis. Next, the wheels and motor are added, wired up to the battery pack and it’s as good to go. The finishing touch to the car is the body. Learners 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 steering, 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 learners then get to fine tune their vehicle over the coming months. Learners can customise their vehicles by decorating the body and even add lights which are powered by the cars battery.
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 learners; Benjamin Wheatley, Cain Hullah, Samuel Barrett and Daniel Bradley.