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STEM challenge tasks Year 9s to build an e-bike

Year 9 secondary school students in Sussex have been tasked with converting an ordinary cycle into an electric one as part of a STEM Challenge.

The students, from Warden Park Secondary Academy, Othall Community College and St Paul’s Catholic College will be provided with an ordinary bicycle, a conversion kit and a brief to build an electric bicycle.

Cyclotricity were approached to provide the electric conversion kits for the project, which is receiving both local media attention and support from the town mayor.

The three teams will also receive support from various local businesses and organisations, each providing a STEM ambassador to work with the schools. The ambassadors will provide both engineering and practical expertise on the project, as well as bringing the students into their businesses to demonstrate how STEM skills translate to opportunities in the workplace.

The objective is to spark long-term interest in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – amongst tomorrow’s workforce.

Rami Akily of Cyclotricity told Pedelecs: “Personally I think the initiative is brilliant and I feel a real sense of job satisfaction in that our products are making a positive difference by inspiring young people to get more involved within the UK manufacturing and engineering sectors. This is a great way to give back something as a company.”

Other organisations involved in the project include Flowserve, PSM Marine Engineering, Nuffield Hospital and Bike Smart.

Speaking to the Mid Sussex Times, Martin Struff of the Engineering Employer Federation said: “Manufacturing is a really important part of the economy, it is important we get a lot of fresh blood. We are delighted to see young people take such an interest and we hope this encourages them. My very best of luck to all three teams.”

Bronagh Liddicoat of Tomorrow’s Engineers at Brighton University explained why initiatives such as this challenge are needed: “In the South East, engineering accounts for 34 per cent of turnover – £248 billion – but recent research shows we will need 299,000 engineering skills by 2024. In 2017 there are 100,107 14 year olds in education, so we need to inspire one third of them to take this route!”

Nick Green of Flowserve echoed the sentiment of “encouraging youngsters’” adding: “who wouldn’t want to be given the tools and equipment to produce an electric bike!”

Lloyd’s Bank will assist the teams in creating a business plan to market and sell the electric bike, which the team behind the project say will be tested for compliance with current regulations.

Liddicoat summed up: “By working with employers, providing challenging and investigative projects with the support of STEM role models to give guidance and share career paths, we can showcase the diversity and rewards of such a career.”

Cyclotricity are a UK based manufacturer of electric bikes and kits since 2008. Based in Southampton, the company have a UK-wide network of more than 70 dealers.