Rugby High students build ‘inspiring’ robot with help from MTC engineers

Rugby High School pupils with their robot
Rugby High School pupils with their robot

A robot built by a group of A-Level students from Rugby High School for Girls has been praised as ‘unique, individual, exciting and inspiring’ by judges at a special event showcasing over 50 engineering projects undertaken by students across the Midlands.

Rugby students Hannah Marchant, Hannah Cooper, Simran Johal and Gursharan Bassan were selected to demonstrate ‘Geoffrey’ the robot at Cranmore Business Park in Solihull, alongside more than 100 other pupils presenting their work.

The girls gained valuable experience in teamwork and project management

Tim Kyte, MTC apprentice training manager

The projects were undertaken as part of an Engineering Education Scheme (EES) initiative.

With support from EES, the RHS girls worked with a team of engineers at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) at Ansty Park, Warwickshire to design and build a programmable single-arm robot.

The project, titled “A robot demonstrator to inspire the next generation”, was part of a six-month EES programme designed to encourage industrial enterprise, innovation and creativity, with a particular focus on encouraging girls to consider a career in engineering.

To humanise their robot and enable students to relate to him more easily, the RHS team gave him the name ‘Geoffrey’, an acronym which also spells out Girls’ Engineering Offers Fellow Females Robotic Education to Year 8. Guided by MTC apprentice training manager Tim Kyte and engineer Stefan Winkvist, the team designed, built and programmed the robot to stack cylinders, demonstrating speed and repeatability versus a human. The students also designed a lesson around the robot to demonstrate it to Year 8 pupils, enthusing and inspiring them with the world of engineering.

As well as praise from the judges, the team received a highly commended certificate and will now be taking ‘Project Geoffrey’ to the Big Bang awards in June - the largest celebration of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) for young people in the UK.

“This event was a great opportunity for our students to demonstrate how they used their creativity, design and problem-solving skills in a real engineering environment to create a potential solution to a manufacturing process,” said Tim Kyte.

“The girls gained valuable experience in teamwork and project management, while at the same time developing new skills with experts in different fields such as CAD and animation. They also worked with a range of state-of-the-art specialist equipment including Trotec lasers, Solidworks CAD and industrial robotics equipment.”

Hannah Marchant said: “We experienced CAD, which is the first time I have used such a brilliant type of software. Under guidance from two MTC apprentices I was able to create an animated model of our project. Then we had to transfer this drawing onto a Trotec laser in the workshop – which was easier to do than I thought, although we did have a highly-skilled MTC engineer with us!”

Tim added: “Throughout the task it was evident that the girls gained a real insight into just how diverse and rewarding engineering can be and the possibilities a career in engineering can offer.

“The response of the judges and assessors to their programmable robot was a fantastic endorsement of the girls’ enthusiastic hard work and innovative approach.”