Almost 50 students from four schools in the Sheffield City Region took part in an intensive STEM day that gave them inspirational insights into the world of advanced manufacturing and engineering, including the marvels of Virtual Reality and 3D printing.

The Year 8 Students took part in three different activity sessions throughout the day –  a tour of the world-leading Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), a CAD workshop and a CAM workshop.

The visit to the AMRC began by going inside the MANufacturing TRAnsporter (MANTRA) – a customised 14m HGV trailer, packed with the latest machinery and simulators, designed to give aspiring young engineers hands-on experience with cutting-edge technologies.

Here they got to use an Electric 3D virtual-welding machine and a tracked 3-D virtual reality system where they could dismantle virtual jet engines. This was followed by a tour of the AMRC where gained insights into the different advanced manufacturing technologies used by companies such as Boeing, Rolls-Royce, and the McLaren supercar team.

To show that modern manufacturing touches every aspect of our lives, the students also got to take part in a CAD workshop where they were set the challenge of designing a cranial implant to repair a hole in a skull.

They were given 3D printed skull models and a generic implant to allow them to visualise the problem. The challenge was completed using Autodesk Fusion 360 professional CAD software, showing the role that engineering plays in the advanced medical applications.  

As all the students were new to this software, they were given a demonstration and a template file containing the skull and a cranial implant part. They then had to use the software to manipulate the implant part so that it fit tightly in the hole in the skull. After saving their designs as STL files for 3D printing students were then given the opportunity to enhance their designs by including holes and additional features.

The youngsters then moved on to the CAM workshop. Here they learned about the process of getting from a 3D model file to a 3D print and about the Cura slicing software. Students then sliced their implant models, saved them and 3D printed them. Whilst the implants were being printed, students explored the Cura slicing software to learn more about the different settings and model controls by completing a series of model manipulation challenges. By the end of the day every group of students had successfully 3D printed a custom cranial implant for their skull.

The final focus of the STEM day was on engineering careers, to facilitate this a range of organisations and engineering companies held a lunchtime careers exhibition. During the student lunch break, they were given the opportunity to browse the exhibition and ask companies questions about their products, technology and careers options. At the end of the day, a short careers presentation was given, signposting students to various resources and next steps. Students and teachers were also provided with engineering careers resources.

This Year of Engineering event, was organised in partnership with CREATE Education, the AMRC, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), the Derbyshire Education Business Partnership (DEPB), Autodesk and WHTV was also supported by many local engineering businesses and organisations.

The day was launched with a welcome address from Professor Keith Ridgway CBE, Executive Dean of the AMRC Group. This was closely followed by an introduction to additive manufacturing and 3D printing by James Hunt also from the AMRC.

During the day, students were given an additional presentation by Andrew Knowles from HP about HP’s Multi Jet Fusion technology and future applications. These presentations provided students with background information into the different 3D printing processes, technologies and techniques used in industry across the engineering and advanced manufacturing sectors.

At the end of the event the students provided feedback about their experiences of the day, what they had learnt and their interest in pursuing a career in engineering. The results were so remarkable that we decided to share them with our community. You can view the results here.

The CREATE Education project would like to thank the staff and Year 8 students from Campsmount Academy, Clifton Community School, Hinde House Secondary School and Wath Comprehensive for participating in this event and for their enthusiasm throughout the day.

We would also like to thank our event partners at the AMRC, DEBP, IMechE, Autodesk and WHTV along with all the exhibitors for helping to make it such a great success in inspiring the next generation of engineers.

If you would like to partner, support or collaborate with the CREATE Education Project on similar future events to inspire young people into engineering and STEM careers, please contact us at enquiries@createeducation.com

In The Classroom

The cranial implant CAD/CAM workshops delivered at this event have been published as a mini project, this provides all the resources required to deliver this project as two individual lessons, as a STEM club activity or for your own STEM event.

View the project information and download the resources.

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