The Challenge Cup involves teams of six girls aged 13 – 15, looking at all aspects of an engineering project including planning, budgeting and managing risk. It was designed to show how many different roles are available within the technology and engineering sectors, as well as influence underprivileged and working class school girls to break the status quo and consider alternative careers. Only 23 per cent of the UK STEM workforce is female, which is significantly lower compared to the rest of Europe.
Created four years ago as a careers involvement day by Birmingham-based Amey staff, the competition has grown to include a number of schools in various areas in the West Midlands, all of which had to go through a number of heats to reach the final in June.
Led by Amey Finance Manager Nuraniyah Khokar, a team of Amey staff developed two extremely difficult activities for the students who completed a range of tasks, including designing and building a scale model replacement for a real-life bridge collapse in Worcestershire. The final required the three teams to design a section of Smart Motorway after a briefing from Ian Faddy-Widmann, Amey’s Principal ITS Engineer who is currently working on real life Smart Motorways projects.
In a short video filmed to highlight the event, Grace from the winning team, Clayton Hall Academy, said:
"We’re all really enjoying it. It’s quite a challenge but that’s what makes it enjoyable. It’s coming along quite well [with] good team work and things like that.”
Her team mate, Alice, added "We’re both taking engineering GCSEs so it’s quite enjoyable. It’s challenging but fun.”
Lisa Ingram, Head of Business Improvement in Birmingham, started and developed the Challenge Cup after seeing the lack of aspiration, opportunities and female role models during a visit to her daughter’s school.
She said: "The Challenge Cup gives girls from deprived areas access to professional female role models they wouldn’t normally engage with. We have a social responsibility to build hopes and aspirations for the communities we work in, and Amey encourages its staff to get involved in enabling young people, especially girls, to take part in the cutting-edge industries we work in.”
Birmingham, the city where the competition launched, contains some of the country’s most deprived areas1 where many young people - especially girls - leave school and go into minimum wage jobs. Amey is however, encouraging schools from all over the country to get involved.
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