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Schools wanted for design and make challenge

One of the UK’s leading independent events for engaging young people in engineering is returning for the first time since Covid-19 struck.

Youngsters taking part in a previous challenge
Youngsters taking part in a previous challenge

The Design & Make Challenge, which is organised by the Manufacturing Assembly Network, will take place on July 12 at the Warwick Manufacturing Group Academy for Young Engineers in Solihull and is on the hunt for additional schools from across the West Midlands to take part.

Nearly 40 Year 11 and Year 12 students from nine schools have already added their names to the list to win the main title and a selection of industry prizes.

Students are challenged with designing and making a mechanical device (details revealed on the day) in one day using just basic tools and materials.

They are offered support from apprentices and engineers from the nine MAN companies and are encouraged to develop their ideas through trial and analysis.

The devices are then tested by a suitably qualified panel of engineers, with prizes awarded to the schools under three different categories – efficiency, innovation and manufacturing.

“Manufacturing has long been the poor relation of career choices and we have to do something to change that and prove to young people that industry is a great path _ full of innovation and technology,” explained Austin Owen, owner of Grove Design and one of the main driving forces behind the day.

“That’s why the nine firms that make up MAN decided to stop waiting for other people to act and came together to create the Design & Make Challenge in 2018 as the best possible way of engaging with Year 11 and Year 12 students considering their options.”

Formed in 2006, The Manufacturing Assembly Network is made up of Alucast, Barkley Plastics, Brandauer, Grove Design, James Lister & Sons, KimberMills International, Muller Holdings, Nemco and PP Control & Automation.

The eight sub-contract manufacturers and specialist engineering design agency form a unique global collective that works together to share best practice and secure contracts for UK industry.

It is the third year that the group has held the Design and Make Challenge and earlier competitions have resulted in 352 hours of hands-on manufacturing experience for young people.

Mr Owen said nine teams had already signed up for this year’s competition, including Gospel Oak Academy, Tipton; Great Wyrley Academy and John Taylor High School, Barton-under-Needwood.

“We have spaces left for two more teams, so it would be great if any schools, who may be looking for an external STEM challenge, get in touch to take part. This will mean we’ll have over 45 students and our biggest ever challenge," he added.

To take part visit or email

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