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Final heats in GUH STEM Challenge underway

17 May 2022

The latest heats of the 2022 Global Underwater Hub STEM Challenge are taking place in Bristol, Manchester and Norwich this week with the aim of inspiring the next generation of subsea talent.

Supported by The Smallpeice Trust, the STEM Challenge sees teams of school pupils aged 13 and 14 compete against peers from local schools in six regional heats to earn a place in June’s final.  The initiative is designed to engage pupils with an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects through an exciting, hands-on project.

During each heat, the teams compete to design and build an ROV using Lego Mindstorms, a hardware-software platform that enables the development of programmable robots based on Lego building blocks.  Each version includes computer Lego bricks, a set of modular sensors and motors, and Lego parts from the Technic line to create mechanical systems.

The STEM Challenge gives pupils an insight into how STEM subjects – and skills such as coding – can be used in future careers.  It also demonstrates to pupils the breadth of job opportunities that are offered by companies working across the underwater sector.

This week’s heats follow rounds in Inverness, Glasgow and Blyth last month. Winners from each of the heats will travel to Aberdeen next month to compete in the final.  On the day, the teams will be tasked with designing an ROV and using sensors, grabbers and beacons to quickly identify a solution to an environmental incident.

When last held in 2020, it was a team of six pupils from Northgate High School in Norwich that were crowned champions.  Maddison Fleming, a pupil on the winning team from Northgate High School, said: "The STEM Challenge has been a really exciting experience and it made me realise that I can do more than I thought possible.  It was a really fun challenge, and everyone has been absolutely amazing.”

Trish Banks, operations director at the Global Underwater Hub, said: "The STEM Challenge aims to inspire youngsters across the country to consider the underwater sector as a future career path, one which is brimming with opportunities. With the continued digitisation of all aspects of life, STEM skills and coding will play an ever-increasing role in the workplace.

"Each heat is usually hotly contested, and it is great to see the creativity of the youngsters shining through. Engaging with schools throughout Britain to inspire pupils about the diversity of roles in the underwater sector is crucial in ensuring we have a diverse future talent pool.”

This year’s programme is sponsored by OPITO, Fugro, Global Marine Group, Havfram, Motive Offshore Group, Neptune Energy, Osbit, Pharos Offshore Group, Science Skills Academy, Subsea Innovation, Subsea 7, TechnipFMC and Teledyne Marine.
Final heats in GUH STEM Challenge underway