Students from Oakham School in Rutland, Leicestershire have won the Royal Academy of Engineering Prize in the National Science and Engineering Competition held at the Big Bang Fair in Manchester. Their prize is to visit the Airbus factory in Toulouse, to see the world’s largest airliner, the Airbus A380, being built.

The winners Charles Crossfield, Lucy Higgins, Sam Quemby and Heather Walker developed their project ‘Detecting defects in aircraft windscreens’ in response to a specific need identified by the RAF. By investigating a large number of methods of detecting small defects in aircraft windscreens, the team went on to design and test a laser scanner which has applications beyond the RAF remit. They also wrote software to allow the data captured from the scanner to be displayed, analysed and stored. Windscreen defects can be catastrophic if not caught in time – the students’ new test saves time and money and reduces unnecessary grounding of aircraft.

The Oakham School team, who were deemed to have presented the best engineering project in the National Science and Engineering Competition, received £500, a certificate and a trip to the Airbus facility in Toulouse to visit the A380 Final Assembly Line and the flight simulator. The prize was presented to them by Dame Sue Ion FREng at the recent Big Bang Fair in Manchester. Dame Sue commented, “The array of talent and creativity in this team and across all the projects on show is living proof that the UK is nurturing a pool of inspirational young engineers that can play their role in the economic growth of the country and well being of society for years to come. “

Roland Jackson, Chief Executive of the British Science Association, commented: “We have seen a range of stunning projects and submissions to the National Science and Engineering Competition this year, a tribute to the creativity of our young people in the UK, and their abilities in science and technology. This is one way in which we’ll ensure that the UK remains competitive in science and engineering.

Notes for editors

  1. The National Science and Engineering Competition, open to all 11-18 year olds, accepts projects from all areas of science, technology, engineering and maths. It is an initiative of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills as a response to a recommendation in Lord Sainsbury’s report ‘The Race to the Top’.
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship - comprising the UK's most eminent engineers - provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain's engineering community.

For more information please contact

Tonia Page, PR Consultant, The Royal Academy of Engineering on 07770 845984