Three members of the Prestwood Young Engineers Club have won awards at the recent national finals of the Wood for Good, Build-a-Beat competition.

Young Engineers is the UK network of engineering clubs and is part of The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Best Programme.

The triumphant trio, Simon Brooker, Charlotte Allen and Curtis Samuels, started their project way back in May and worked all through the summer until the end of October to design and construct a model of a stage. Requirements for the stage included that it must be made from softwood on a scale of 1:10, cover a floor space of 5m by 3m and have a roof with a 2m cantilever. It also had to be demountable and all the pieces fit in the back of a transit van.

This was an immense project to undertake by three youngsters of only 10 years old, and they faithfully held their promise made at the start of the project to club leader, Michael Phelan, that they would complete it!

They prepared different prototype models, using cardboard and other materials, eventually coming up with a design they were all happy with. Local carpenter, Richard Freeman, volunteered to provide help, and attended many meetings with the team to advise them on wood structures, types of wood and joints to use and to assist with testing and strengthening.

Throughout the summer, for many evening and weekends, they worked together getting the pieces cut with the correct angles and lengths (using a mitre saw!) and slowly cutting out all the joints with a router in preparation for putting it together.

After a couple of attempts, all the pieces were cut to the required sizes then with screws and angle brackets the stage was slowly connected together starting with the arches and then the beams until, finally, it was complete.

Finally, the stage was tested to ensure it could stand up to pressure from the wind. Using building bricks placed on a platform and attached to a pulley rope connected to the roof of the stage, the weight of the bricks on the platform simulated the pressure of the wind on the roof.

All their hard work seemed to be paying off. The team were selected as one of only four finalist teams from more than 30 entries and invited to attend the final judging at the Institution of Civil Engineering (ICE) in London last month!

They took their model to the event, presented it to a panel of judges and answered many difficult and technical questions for almost 30 minutes.

Success! They judges were very impressed with the processes used to design and construct the model, the thought put into it, the effort and the perseverance. Not only had the youngsters completed this in addition to their school work, it had also coincided with their 11+ exams and they had only had the use of a garage as a workshop!

As Year 6 students they were also the youngest competitors of the four finalist teams!

After a wonderful day of tours around the ICE building and the Cabinet War Museum they returned in the evening to hear the judges’ decision where they came joint second in the competition! Each was presented with a certificate and there was a prize of £100 for Prestwood Young Engineers Club.

Notes for editors

  1. 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.
  2. The Best Programme is the Royal Academy of Engineering’s programme of schemes aimed at encouraging and enthusing students to embark upon a career in engineering. ‘Best’ stands for ‘Better Engineering Science, Technology’ and the programme offers young people from the age of 7 upwards opportunities to gain an understanding of engineering and its importance in the world around us.
  3. Young Engineers is a UK educational charity whose purpose is to inspire young people to recognise the importance and excitement of a career in engineering. Most, but not all of the clubs are run in schools, by teacher volunteers.

For more information please contact

Claire McLoughlin at The Royal Academy of Engineering