Fife and Angus youngsters take to the skies for STEM challenge

The winning team from Glenrothes High at the Raytheon's fifth annual Quadcopter Challenge
The winning team from Glenrothes High at the Raytheon's fifth annual Quadcopter Challenge

Pupils from schools around Fife and Angus took part in Glenrothes firm Raytheon’s fifth annual Quadcopter Challenge hosted by defending champions Auchmuty High.

This year’s challenge was themed ‘Technology Around the World’ and saw teams from ten schools tasked with building a fully functioning, four-bladed, multi-rotor, remotely piloted air system – commonly known as a quadcopter.

Each region across the UK was assigned a different country around which to theme their quadcopters, with the youngsters in Glenrothes receiving the USA.

Raytheon STEM ambassadors mentored the teams throughout the competition, visiting schools, hosting workshops and offering advice on how to improve aerodynamics and control of the quadcopters.

The contest saw each team competing in a series of complex flying challenges designed to test the speed, agility and accuracy of their quadcopters.

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Team members also gave a 10-minute presentation to explain their USA-inspired design process, and how they managed their project.

This year’s participating schools were Auchmuty High, Balwearie High, Beath High, Glenrothes High, Glenwood High, Kirkcaldy High, Levenmouth Academy, Lochgelly High, Woodmill High, and St Andrew’s High.

Following a close fought contest the team of Kian Laing, Aaron McCrae, Oliver Ross and Dylan Napier from Glenrothes High were announced as the regional winners.

They will now compete in the grand final at RAF Cosford Museum in Wolverhampton later this month where they will take on the regional winners from each of the company’s major UK sites at Broughton, Glenrothes, Waddington, Harlow, Manchester and Gloucester.

The Quadcopter Challenge is part of Raytheon’s ongoing efforts to spark student interest in science, technology, engineering and maths. Other Raytheon UK STEM initiatives include the RAF Engineering Competition, school career workshops and bursaries.

Fife Council’s lead officer for enterprise and business development, Pamela Stevenson, said: “STEM skills are of huge importance to the future prosperity of Fife.

“The partnership with Raytheon on the Quadcopter Challenge catches students’ imagination and opens their eyes to the possibilities of a career in STEM in a unique way.

“It has been fantastic to see the Quadcopter Challenge go from strength to strength over the past few years and it has become embedded in the Culture of Enterprise programme.

“We are looking forward to cheering on our regional winner Glenrothes High at the UK finals.”

Raytheon’s Glenrothes’ STEM lead, Stephan Fortune, added: “I’m really proud of how this contest has grown and supported more than 500 pupils across Fife since it started.

“Unlike many other industry STEM initiatives, the Quadcopter Challenge gives young people an insight into ‘hands-on’ STEM skills.

“The physical act of building and creating is essential to the learning experience together with presenting their ideas to a panel of judges.

“At Raytheon, we are firm believers in the potential of events like these to inspire the next generation of STEM leaders.

“By driving interest in STEM careers from an early age, we can help to fill Scotland’s skills gap and drive economic growth for our local, regional and national economies.”