Give them 3D printers… and watch the young engineers go! KMF Sheet Metal Engineering has the chance to see the budding young geniuses of the UK get to work again for their annual competition with the current mission to 3D print a marketable gizmo in the Design, Print, and Pitch contest. They are already engaged in the contest full-force, learning, creating, and becoming prepared for the real world with progressive new skills.
KMF is of the UK’s largest sheet metal manufacturers. While as a business they are dedicated to supplying quality metal solutions to a wide range of different industries, they are also on a mission to encourage the young people in their country to get interested in engineering, and not only that — to understand what engineering really is.
Through offering the annual Young Engineer of the Year Contest, they are able to spread the word about how important and fulfilling engineering careers can be, as well as being able to highlight those with talent in the field, early on. The competitions get the energy and inspiration flowing, and offer a great deal of fun for students who in the past have worked on clock designs to be marketed, as well as racecar kits to be brought to fruition for competition.
This year, YEOTY has another substantial challenge planned as they have supplied 25 high schools with 3D printers meant to engage tenth-graders to create marketable gadgets. As they learn about the new technology, becoming educated in 3D design and 3D printing, students will be led by a variety of UK sponsors, all 24 of which are involved in local companies. The point, as always, is to encourage the kids to get interested in engineering and teach them skills which they can actually use in their future job market as well as, very importantly, list on their resumes.
During the course of the program and impending competition, KMF has spoken to 3,500 students regarding the contest. Each of the 25 schools has received a MakerBot Z18 3D printer. In creating marketable products, students are expected to:
- Become inspired about engineering a product
- Learn new design and technology skills
- Learn about marketing research
- Learn how to pitch ideas
- Learn about taking a product to market
- Learn about business basics, including planning
The competition is extremely well-planned and comprehensive in that KMF began speaking with schools in September 2014, as the competition was being launched. In November, each school — working with the sponsors — chose four teams to compete based on “quality standards.” As everyone is busy working on their projects, they look forward to the culmination of all their hard work on March 12, 2015, when each school will have pared their participants down to two teams. These teams will work as finalists in March, each presenting a booth for guests to check out, as well as pitching their products to judges in a ten-minute spiel.
With an interesting, fun, and creative twist that adds to the competitive edge, teams will compete in a Dragons’ Den forum, in a nod to the British television series which features teams pitching their ideas to judges with the concept that if chosen, they will offer a percentage of their business in exchange for a specific amount of funding. The ‘entrepreneurs’ present their pitches to the ‘investors’ who can one by one opt out if not interested or impressed, leaving the rest to offer negotiations and input.
The ‘dragons,’ who will have a set criteria for judging the teams and their products, will choose the best teams to compete in the grand finale, with awards to be given on June 18, 2015. The ceremony will be hosted by Jason Bradbury of The Gadget Show.
While an extra perk is that school design departments are equipped with new technology, KMF points out that the competition has great potential to become a government sponsored program, as the UK works to regain its excellence in engineering. It’s an all-around positive experience for everyone involved, from KMF to the students, parents, sponsors, potential industry employers, and the region as a whole.
Do you think a competition like this is an effective way to raise up new engineers in the UK? Have you or students you know competed in 3D printing competitions geared toward engineering or other technical sectors? Tell us your thoughts in the Young Engineers of the Year 3D Printing Contest forum over at 3DPB.com.
The video below is geared toward potential sponsors, but explains a bit about the competition and gives an idea of the energy and enthusiasm surrounding it for 2015.