On 20 Nov 13, RAF Waddington hosted students from ten schools from across the Lincolnshire region to compete in the prestigious Project-X Challenge, where teams of Year 8 (aged 12-13 years) students were set an engineering challenge to design and build an aircraft that could successfully drop sensitive supplies to two downed pilots whilst travelling down a zip-wire.

Following a 12-week planning, design, build and test period, the participating schools displayed their excellent aircraft and innovative air-drop solutions in RAF Waddington’s gymnasium on Finals Day. The competitors were faced with many challenges spanning the curriculum, where logistics, maths, engineering and design skills were put to the test. Furthermore, the teams had to endure an intense Dragons’ Den event where they first had to earn their ‘Certificate to Fly’ by answering several tough questions from the nasty Dragons regarding their particular engineering solutions. The participating schools engaged in healthy and nail-biting competition during their assessed aircraft ‘flights’ down the zip-wire in the afternoon. To keep the students busy between their assessments, there were several ‘Show and Tell’ stands that demonstrated life in the RAF, comprising military ice-clearing vehicles, fire and rescue equipment, Service weapons, bomb disposal and medic displays. The competition was stiff and all teams scored highly; however, the ultimate Project-X 2013 winner was Branston Community Academy who flew near perfect sorties to take the title.


A proud Mr James Carter, the Science Head at Branston Community Academy, said:

“The Project-X Schools Finals Day was an intense experience, especially in the Dragons’ Den! My students were initially unsure of how things would go, especially after seeing the high level of competition; however our confidence grew throughout the day. There was certainly a roller-coaster of emotions, but the kids were absolutely buzzing when they were announced as winners! My students are still on cloud nine after the experience and our whole school is really proud of them! We’ll look forward to defending our title next year!”

Project organiser, Flight Lieutenant Kenny Hemlin said:

“All participating schools delivered impressive aircraft designs and their delivery systems were innovative, employing a variety of ideas to protect the sensitive packages (eggs) with varying results! The competition was stiff, however Branston Community Academy were worthy winners of the trophy with a strong Dragons’

Den performance, two excellent flights and no broken eggs!”

Challenge supported by Northrop Grumman is just one of many exciting and challenging initiatives run by RAF Waddington as part of its wider Youth Engagement Strategy. The high level of uptake from Lincolnshire schools demonstrates that the students have the desire and all the requisite tools to be successful engineers of the future.

Over 30 Servicemen and women, some of which have only just returned from operations in Afghanistan and Libya, volunteered to mentor the schools through the past 12 weeks and have been instrumental in the huge success of Project-X. We have all been enormously impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication that the students have shown during the Project.

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