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Sixth Form Project 2014/15 - Engineering Education Scheme Wales

Once again, TechSoft UK Ltd were delighted to be supporting Engineering Education Scheme Wales (EESW) in their fantastic work to promote and engage students will real-life engineering problems. TechSoft are principle providers of CAD/CAM systems for UK education and we depend on creative people with practical skills and understanding to develop our products and support our customers.TechSoft Head Office

But our enthusiasm for EESW is not just about securing future employees. At TechSoft, we believe that understanding how things work and how things are designed and made should be in everyone’s DNA. Positive experience with STEM at a young age, we believe, is fundamental.

The EESW Sixth-Form project is one very good way to achieve this and six girls from Ysgol Y Grango in Wrexham needed no convincing. Alanis Curran, an engineering student, headed-up their team. Alanis was clear about the skill-set she needed and recruited Bethan Page to lead on Design, Rachael Smith (Maths), Carys Jones (Physics), Alicia Furlong (Science) and Grace Campbell (Technology).

Work began in earnest in early December 2014 with a visit from Richard Butler, Bangor graduate and TechSoft Sales and Training Manager for Western UK. Richard takes up the story:

SolidWorks Rendering“The EESW challenge this year coincided with first delivery of the much-awaited new desktop CNC milling machine from Roland. The SRM-20 is designed to be a low-cost but high specification 3D milling machine for subtractive rapid prototyping of 3D parts. In style and capacity, it complements its sister product, the ARM-10 for additive rapid prototyping – or 3D Printing. The SRM-20 deserves to be a popular choice for schools but needed one extra feature. 3D models are often machined from styrene-based foam in the first instance and this generates a lot of potentially harmful dust. The SRM-20 is fully enclosed and contains most of this but, for school use, we don’t like to take chances. As we were scratching our heads about what would work best, along came Alanis and her team. Whatever they came up with had to be easily retro-fitted, cost effective, safe to ship and, of course, provide an effective solution. The Roland design team had put a lot of effort into giving the SRM-20 cool and stylish good looks so we didn’t want to detract from that either.”

Ysgol y Grango WorkThe girls from Ysgol Y Grango readily accepted the challenge and started working on Richard’s brief straight away. Their project log records some excellent lateral thinking about how to create a powerful air-flow, and explores why the Dyson Airblade can blast away the water yet still be so small. Early prototypes were built and tested and, step by step, a preferred solution was developed. It was particularly impressive that the team did not fall into the common “……if only we’d have more time.….” trap. The girls used Gantt charts and SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats) analysis at all stages to manage their time, identify and address training needs and manage their design and production process. Impressive stuff.

With further pop-ins and telephone support from Richard the team were ready to present their proposal at our Head Office in Denbighshire in mid-February. It worked - we loved it.

Some help with SolidWorks, some further amendments and the girls were in good shape to face the judges at the EESW Big Bang Fair at Venue Cymru, Llandudno on 25th March. I’ll let the last word go to Alana:

“We feel that the final design meets all the needs of the brief and actually has more functions than what was asked for. We are very pleased and just want to thank TechSoft for allowing us to work with them and giving us the opportunity to do something that is real and so rewarding”.

We agree, you were inspiring to work with and we wish you all every success for the future. Here’s to next year!

by Tim Elderton of TechSoft, May 2015
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