200 Fife pupils take part in engineering challenge

Balwearie pupils taking part in the Quadcopter Challenge. Pic by Greg Macvean
Balwearie pupils taking part in the Quadcopter Challenge. Pic by Greg Macvean

More than 200 school pupils from schools around Fife have been taking part in a unique aerial contest as part of Glenrothes firm Raytheon’s annual Quadcopter Challenge.

Schools including Balwearie, Kirkcaldy High and Lochgelly participated in the nationwide project that is now in its fourth year and includes pupils from eight regions and 40 schools, ahead of a grand final in Birmingham next month.

The event reflects Raytheon’s commitment to promoting STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths – to cultivate the next generation of scientists and engineers.

The contest saw ambassadors from the company teach pupils how to build and fly a fully operational, remotely piloted quadcopter before going on to compete in a series of intricate flying challenges designed to test speed, agility and accuracy.

Contestants were also assessed on creativity and engineering skill with Auchmuty High School taking the hard-earned victory in the Fife contest.

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 and 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 become embedded in the Culture of Enterprise programme. We are looking forward to cheering on our regional winner at the UK finals.”

Raytheon’s Glenrothes’ STEM lead, Stephan Fortune, added: “Congratulations to Auchmuty High School and all who took part. Like many of the other STEM ambassadors at Raytheon Glenrothes, I got involved to help provide pupils with advice about STEM careers that I did not get at school, so it is really rewarding to see how this challenge and other activities have grown year-on-year.

“Events like this are so important in inspiring the next generation to study STEM and pursue careers within the STEM field. Growing the talent pipeline at a national and regional level will allow Scotland and the UK to prosper in many important sectors like manufacturing and engineering, while promoting the country as a global hub for STEM and innovation.”

Around 250 STEM ambassadors from Raytheon are involved in this year’s challenge, either co-ordinating the competition, visiting schools or teaching the teams.

Aerospace and defence company Raytheon launched the competition in 2015 with teams competing from a single school in Essex and demand from schools to compete has seen it grow every year.

Auchmuty High School will now compete against other regional champions at the national final on December 12 in Birmingham.

The teams taking part were: Auchmuty, Balwearie, Beath, Glenrothes, Glenwood, Inverkeithing, Kirkcaldy, Levenmouth, Lochgelly, and Woodmill High Schools.