The competition is well underway now with the schools having chosen their teams and some fantastic ideas emerging. In total we have nearly 20 teams in the North Yorkshire area entering, which is great and more than I expected.

I’ve started to go out and meet the teams and teachers to answer any questions and have a look at the initial concepts, to give some guidance if necessary – so far we have some out-there, blue-sky ideas and some great plans with good solid engineering thought behind them – but above all every team has a common enthusiasm which is fantastic to see.

Most of the teams that have entered are from year 9, with a couple of teams from year 10 so I may need to judge them separately, but that’s something to consider a little later.  The first stage for the judging is a formal report to put together by the teams – so I look forward to see what we get back.

My next immediate job is to seek out a few more judges, so I might be in touch with a couple of firms over the next few weeks. Watch this space. 

The main purpose behind the completion was to see if we could stimulate some interest in design and manufacture in the UK.  We have heard so much about lack of jobs and the industry struggling over the last five or six years, that I wanted to show that there is manufacturing alive and kicking within the UK, and it is getting stronger.

Obviously, with GSPK Design being a electronic design and manufacturing company, I wanted the competition to be more biased in that direction, but the competition is not all about the end product. It’s really about the journey from concept to completion; with modern manufacturing techniques many of the schools have the capability to produce 3D models and fairly complex prototypes – and it seem the students are all keen to make things, which is great. However, it’s also about the students thinking about the marketing of the product, the brand identity and their target market – the five Ps: product, price, place, packaging and promotion.


They need to research the materials, estimate price for production, how feasible is the product, and how would they anticipate getting it manufactured. We want to get them thinking about the jobs they come across along the way, the different skills and different job roles from industrial design, product design, tooling designers, tool makers, production, graphic designers, marketers etc… and all the job roles that are required to take a product from design right through to production. The competition touches on the core curriculum and, having visited and met some of the teams over the last few days, it’s been great. The teachers involved are very keen and the students extremely enthusiastic – it seems that the teachers really appreciate these real world experiences and the value that entering these types of competition give the students over and above the regular day to day learning – and it seems because of the scope of the competition it also benefits not only this year’s work, but also has strong resonance with later GCSEs and future A’ level requirements, so will help the students later in their schooling.

I was impressed with the enthusiasm   and from what I’ve seen of some of the initial ideas that were put forward, it’s going to be a tough completion to judge.  It’s great how the next generation just embraces new technology and ideas and takes these things for granted – we are all in for a very connected future, that’s all I can say.

I would urge and encourage other companies to engage with their local schools; you never know what talent you may unlock. It’s not difficult and the teachers I come across are begging for support and to engage with local industry. Good luck to all the teams; can’t wait till the judging day!