PlutoIt might not have the glamour of Monaco, or the racing heritage of Silverstone, but Norwich is home to a group of pioneering students who have their sights set on F1 glory.

Team Pluto, one of three teams formed by Diploma in Manufacturing and Product Design (MPD) students from City College in Norwich, has progressed to the national finals of the F1 in Schools Challenge.  They beat off stiff competition to win the 'Best Rookie Team' category during the London and south-east regional heat held at the headquarters of the Williams F1 team in Oxfordshire.

The group are among the first in the country to study for the Diploma in MPD, an innovative new qualification aimed at giving 14-19 year-olds a practical understanding of the manufacturing industry and of life in the workplace in general.

City College is delivering the Diploma in MPD as part of Open Opportunity, a consortium of schools, colleges and employers based in the Norwich area.

As part of their studies, the teenagers have been spending time at Norfolk County Council's Hethel Engineering Centre which is just a stones throw away from the base of sports car manufacturer Lotus.  Here they have been honing their designs to compete in F1 in Schools – an international competition which involves thousands of teenagers across 30 countries.

Brian Conway, deputy headmaster at Notre Dame High School and one of the teachers delivering the Diploma in MPD, said Team Pluto's success is testament to the hard work all Diploma in MPD students put into the project.

“Team Pluto was the most successful team in testing and their efforts well and truly paid off in the regional heats, but everyone has played a major role in Team Pluto's progress. If they hadn't been pushed so hard by the two other teams they would never have been so competitive,” he said.

“Everyone has thoroughly enjoyed the challenges that the F1 in Schools competition has brought. It ties in fantastically with the Diploma in MPD curriculum and has proved to be a great way of launching the qualification this term.

“The Diploma in MPD is all about introducing topics around manufacturing and product design in a fun and engaging way that mixes theoretical work with practical experiences at local employers and places like the Hethel Engineering Centre. The F1 in Schools Challenge dovetails with the course because it is also a great mix of theory and practice and Team Pluto's success in our first year in the competition is evidence of their compatibility.”

The F1 in Schools Challenge was founded ten years ago and has since expanded around the globe, with World Championships introduced in 2004. It is designed to introduce students aged 9-19 to careers in high-tech manufacturing, engineering, Formula One, science, marketing and technology.The Open Opportunity teams had to market themselves and seek sponsorship for the challenge, which they gained from the Norfolk Learning Partnership and Investing in Communities Norfolk.

Andrew Denford, founder and chairman of the F1 in Schools Challenge, is also an employer champion for the Diploma in MPD – raising awareness of the qualification and encouraging more companies to become involved in its delivery.

He said: “To see students produce such amazing results using the F1 in Schools initiative is great news for the Diploma in MPD and is a fantastic example of how the Diplomas are going to allow students to engage very early on in their careers in preparing themselves for the real world of work.” 

The 14 and 15-year-old students designed their racers using Computer Aided Design (CAD) before the models were aerodynamically tested in a virtual wind tunnel which uses Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software. The six 20cm long balsa wood gas powered racers were then manufactured with the help of a Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM) system before being road tested on a 20 metre-track – where they reached speeds of up to 60kph.

At the regional final teams were judged on car speed, as well as supporting evidence of their design, verbal presentation and a marketing display stand in 'the pits.' Team Pluto will now go on to compete at the National Finals, which take place on January 16 and 17 during The Autosport International Show at the NEC, Birmingham.

The Diploma in Manufacturing and Product Design (MPD) is available to young people aged 14 to 19 and is being delivered by consortia of local schools, colleges and employers. The course allows students to divide their time between classroom, college and real work environments.

Students studying the Diploma in MPD as part of the Open Opportunity Consortium in Norwich come from Notre Dame High School, City of Norwich School, Framingham Earl High School, City Academy Norwich, the Hewett High School and Wayland Community High School.

They spend two days a week on the course, which is equivalent to seven GCSEs.  The students have received sponsorship from Norfolk Learning Partnerships and Investing in Communities Norfolk, this has allowed them to work on their F1 in Schools entries at the Hethel Engineering Centre.

For more information, visit the website for the Diploma in Manufacturing and Product Design, at http://www.manufacturingdiploma.co.uk/.

Issued on behalf of the Manufacturing Diploma Development Partnership, by Nexnet PR, Leeds, www.nexnet.co.uk.  For further information call Nexnet on 0113 247 0029 or email joel.turner@nexnet.co.uk or paul.newham@nexnet.co.uk.

Notes to editor

Diploma in Manufacturing and Product Design (MPD)

The Diploma in Manufacturing and Product Design (MPD) is available to pupils and students aged 14 to 19. It has been developed to sit alongside traditional academic qualifications such as GCSEs and A-Levels. The qualification is being delivered by consortia of local schools, colleges and employers,allowing students to divide their time between classroom, college and real work environments.

Championed by some of the country's leading manufacturing employers, the Diploma in MPD has been designed to equip young people with the skills and knowledge needed to pursue a career in industry, and is taught from a curriculum designed by employers for employers.

All students taking the Diploma in MPD will study the principal topics business and enterprise, product design and materials science and production systems. The additional and specialist learning element gives students the chance to tailor their qualification by taking courses related to particular manufacturing sub-sectors. They will also be assessed in functional skills including English, maths and ICT, as well as 'soft' skills such as team working and critical thinking.

The Diploma is available at three levels, foundation, higher and advanced.  Depending on the level and pathways followed, it is intended to offer a platform for Further or Higher Education, or for taking an Apprenticeship or another form of work-based training.

www.manufacturingdiploma.co.uk

 

 

 

 

It might not have the glamour of Monaco, or the racing heritage of Silverstone, but Norwich is home to a group of pioneering students who have their sights set on F1 glory...

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