The Engineering Education Scheme offers pupils the opportunity to work in conjunction with a local company on an STEM based project. This year some of our year 12 pupils have been working with SAS International, who manufacture metal ceiling systems and tiles for commercial applications, on real projects set by their engineers. The first of these was to find a way of extracting wasted energy from their production processes and recycling it back into the factory systems. The other project was to find a way of chemically aging (patinating) a brass tile and to design a process where that could be applied in a large scale in a safe way. This project was proposed as a result of the company needing to supply a large number of these tiles for the redesign of the interior of Goldman Sachs Bank offices in London and New York. The two project groups have worked for many hours on top of their studies to produce innovative solutions to the problems set.

The ‘energy recovery’ team produced a number of solutions including a method of recovering electricity from wasted heat in the company’s paint curing ovens and a method of using ‘Linear Electrical Generators’ that they developed themselves to generate electricity from the vertical motion of the machine presses. The ‘patination’ team worked with Swansea University and Hexigone Inhibitors Limited to develop the chemical process needed and also designed a rotational, computer controlled dipping system to apply the chemical to the brass material needed.

Having written extensive project reports, the teams then travelled to Parc Y Scarlets in Llanelli on Thursday 19th April to present the projects to the competition judges alongside 75 other school and college groups. As always, this was a fantastic opportunity for the pupils to explain their ideas and solutions to others and to see what other projects all the other schools have been working on, as well as put themselves in line some of the 12 awards on offer.

Both teams impressed the judges with their projects, with the Energy Recovery team being nominated for two awards, ‘The Best Application of Engineering and Technology’ and the ‘Most Innovative Solution to the Problem’. The Patination team was also nominated, and won the award for the ‘Best use of Chemical Engineering’. For this they won a prize of £500, half of this for the school and the other half to split between themselves, giving them £50 each.

These projects have also enabled two of the team to establish work experience placements with SAS International during the summer term, and two of the Patination team have impressed Hexigone Inhibitors so much that they have been asked to assist with finalising the chemical process when SAS International need to take the project to the next step.

Images: The team responsible for the energy recovery project, Leah Marie-Sims, Ben Sullivan, Ben Jones, Morgan Hall and Iwan Wheeler together with Geraint Lewis and David Edwards from SAS International at the presentation day in Llanelli.