The STEM initiative is a programme which encourages young people to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, and the RAF has stepped in to assist the local youngsters by setting them a technical challenge.
RAF Valley based Engineering Officer, Squadron Leader Tony
McLoughlin, set the pupils the task of designing an automatic warning sign that
will flash up to advise drivers on the airfield to stop in one of the numerous
“FOD boxes” on the airfield perimeter roads. Drivers have to stop within the
box and examine their vehicles for any loose objects that may come off on the
runway and cause what is called “foreign object damage” to aircraft. Foreign
object damage is a serious business, and can be extremely dangerous. A loose
piece of debris can damage aircraft and potentially cause an accident.
The students visited the base to gain an understanding of how a military air base works, and to meet some of the engineers responsible for keeping the aircraft flying. During the visit the youngsters were shown the Hawk T1 and T2 aircraft operated by IV(R) and 208(R) squadrons. The aircraft are maintained to a very high standard by civilian contractors from Babcock and BAE Systems. Many of the engineers, technicians and mechanics working on the aircraft are from the local area, and it is hoped that the STEM initiative will encourage the students to consider a career in engineering when they leave school.
Squadron Leader Tony McLoughlin leads the station’s STEM programme. He said: “I have been an engineer in the RAF for 30 years and am really keen to promote engineering as a career choice for young people. The STEM project is an excellent way to engage youngsters, getting them to solve real engineering problems and hopefully spark an interest in engineering. The visit was an ideal opportunity to visualize the project they have been set in an aviation environment and understand what engineering opportunities are available, particularly within the RAF and locally at RAF Valley.”
There is a wide range of engineering activity undertaken by industry contractors at RAF Valley and the project has benefited greatly from their support. Bob Godin, the Hawk T1 Operations Manager from Babcock Defence Services has been instrumental in supporting the STEM project. Bob said: “The project that Ysgol Llangefni have been set provides a solution to a real-time practical issue and gives them the opportunity to design, develop and build their concept. This will be presented at the North Wales Engineering Education Scheme Wales Big Bang event in Llandudno in April - a fantastic opportunity which they are approaching with enthusiasm and determination”
Editor: Sqn Ldr Williams
Babcock engineer Bob Godin and the Ysgol Llangefni students
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