Gwynedd sixth-form students present winning engineering idea to National Grid

Students of a Gwynedd secondary school have been given the opportunity to present their award-winning engineering idea after impressing a team from National Grid and Morgan Sindall.

The four Year 12 students from Ysgol Friars School in Bangor – Chloe Hooton, Kanishk Patil, Marcus Maniago, and Thea Hummel – won the award for ‘Best Use of Mechanical Engineering Principles’ for their EESW (Engineering Education Scheme Wales) STEM Cymru Sixth Form Project entry.

National Grid sponsored two teams in EESW’s national STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Sixth Form competition, which sees teams of around 600 Year 12 students from schools across Wales set a project brief related to a real world challenge to collaborate on.

The students were invited to National Grid’s substation site at Pentir, as the project team were keen to learn more about how they came up with their winning idea. The Ysgol Friars teams were set the challenge of devising a new way to lay new electricity cables underground that was safe and cost-effective, less disruptive for local communities, have the same or a reduced environmental impact, and take no longer than current methods.

The teams of students had to research and design a solution and produce a final proposal, model or working prototype with the support of their teacher. After considering several ideas, the team unanimously decided on a carbon dioxide rock cracking device.

As part of their visit, the students also had the opportunity to tour the busy Pentir working site and learn more about National Grid’s work taking place to install new underground cables to connect Dinorwig Power Station, known as ‘Electric Mountain’.

Shaun Holdsworth, Head of Faculty for Design and Technology, Engineering including ICT at Ysgol Friars, said: “Our students were thrilled to have won an award from EESW for their idea, which they really enjoyed tackling.

“The team found it brilliant working on a real-world challenge and being able to learn from an established, enthusiastic engineer from National Grid who could provide real insight into both the world of engineering and the world of work. They were delighted to be invited to present their winning idea to the real-life project team.”

Mick Tuke, Lead EPC Project Manager for the Dinorwig to Pentir cable replacement project, said: “It’s been great to see the students work together to consider one of the challenges National Grid faces during a complex, technical engineering project such as ours.”

“We hope the STEM challenge has really pushed their thinking, and hopefully inspired them to consider a future career in the exciting, varied world of engineering.”

National Grid is replacing the existing underground cables between Dinorwig Power Station and its substation at Pentir. The original cables were installed in the late 1970s and have been in reliable use ever since. They are now coming to the end of their operational life and are being replaced to maintain the security of electricity supplies for the local area and beyond.