View all news

Composites CDT hosts STEM outreach day with Sixth Form pupils

A group of Sixth Form students are talking with current CDT students about the NextCOMP Crusher, a device that is used to test the integrity of a composite of jelly and dried pasta noodles.

A group of Sixth Form students are being instructed on using the NextCOMP Crusher by current CDT students.James Griffith

A group of three Sixth Form students are standing at a lab table with a CDT student, who is holding an aerofoil to their wing design, giving advice on their wing.

A group of Sixth Form students are being advised on creating their wing design by a current CDT student.James Griffith

A group of five Sixth Form students are smiling while creating their wing design while a CDT student offers encouragement and advice.

Sixth Form students are engaged in the activity of creating an aeroplane wing. James Griffith

6 June 2023

On 18 May, the ACCIS/CoSEM CDTs hosted a STEM Outreach Day for a group of 50 Sixth-Form pupils from Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School in Gloucestershire. Led entirely by the current CDT students, there were four activities that ran throughout the day in rotation, highlighting the exciting opportunities in composites engineering.

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Composites Science, Engineering and Manufacturing (CoSEM CDT) welcomed Sixth Form pupils from Katharine Lady Berkeley’s (KLB) School in Gloucestershire. The ACCIS/CoSEM CDT students led activities that showcased the work they are engaged in and gave a taster of the type of exciting research being done in the programme.

To start the day, there was an introduction to the University and Composites Engineering given by Professor Ian Hamerton in the Small Lecture Theatre. This was then followed by a mini-lecture presented by final year CDT student, Rafael Heeb, on an Introduction to Aeronautics. Then, third year CDT student, Meiran Abdo spoke about some of the real-world applications of composites within the context of his current research project in recycling wind blade waste material.

The group then went down to the General Engineering Lab for a variety of hands-on and engaging activities. One activity, created by Dr. Ben Woods, was the creation of an aeroplane wing. This required students in small groups to make important decisions to craft a wing that took into consideration aerodynamics and the lift/drag ratio. The ‘winning’ designs were celebrated after each wing was tested for performance.

A pupil from KLB added: “I enjoyed seeing the university buildings and getting a brief insight into the layout of Bristol. I also thoroughly enjoyed experimenting with the plane wings, trying the get the best compromise between aerodynamics and rigidity."

The KLB pupils also utilised a novel crushing apparatus devised by the University's NextCOMP research team. Using jelly and dried pasta, the pupils were tasked with creating a sample that could withstand the most weight.

The pupils also used pillar drills and a laser cutter to create keychains that they could take home with them. Each pupil was also given the opportunity to spend time practicing their take-off and landing skills on the Faculty's flight simulators, which was a really popular activity with the pupils.

As it was a beautiful day outside, the pupils enjoyed lunch at Royal Fort Gardens, before continuing the rotations in the Lab. It was a great day, with unanimously positive feedback from KLB pupils and staff on the overall satisfaction of the day and the engagement of the CDT students.

Jurg Laderach, Maths teacher from KLB school said: “It was such a well-planned day from A-Z, the students were incredibly engaged, and I overheard so many great conversations between the students about the tasks and about their university choices! They delivered the tasks with such enthusiasm and took every opportunity to engage with our students.”

When asked about their favourite parts of the day, in addition to mentions of their favourite activities, the pupils said:

  • "The enthusiasm of students to help."
  • "The experience of the flight simulators and the competitive nature of the engineering challenges"
  • "Learning more about why some of the students chose to take this career path and what the future of aviation is going to look like"
  • "Talking to current students and asking them questions about the routes they took to get to where they are"

Additional gratitude for the support to help run this day goes to: Willow Gibson, Jo Gildersleve, the NextComp team, Sophie Spence, Josh Hoole, Active Outreach, and the CDT Directors and Staff.

More Bristol Composites Institute news.

Return to Bristol Composites Institute homepage.

Return to EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Composites Science, Engineering and Manufacturing homepage.

Further information

The CoSEM CDT (established in 2019) has evolved from the highly successful and established ACCIS CDT (2014-2024) to address exciting doctoral training opportunities for multidisciplinary composite materials engineering and manufacture.

Edit this page