Hitchin pupils come second in final of national drone competition

Students from Hitchin Boys' School finished second in the national finals of Raytheon’s Quadcopter C

Students from Hitchin Boys' School finished second in the national finals of Raytheon’s Quadcopter Challenge. Picture: Fabio De Paola - Credit: Archant

Hitchin Boys’ School students picked up second prize at the fourth annual Raytheon’s Quadcopter Challenge national final for their drone design.

The event, which took place in Birmingham, pitted 86 teams from more than 30 schools, cadet and youth groups against each other.

Teams had to build a fully functioning, four-bladed, multi-rotor, remotely piloted air system – and then take part in a number of challenges such speed, agility and accuracy.

Drones designed by the teams were also assessed on creativity and engineering skills.

The HBS team of Robin Winterbourne, Timothy Grant, Snorri Tomasson, Rowan Miller, Ed Burbidge and Victor Truong were close to winning the national competition – after coming out on top in the regional final earlier this month – but just missed out to Warminster’s Kingdown School.

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Physics teacher Rulank Kotecha said: “The boys have worked incredibly hard for this achievement, often working till late. This is a credit to their passiom, determination and teamwork and a wonderful opportunity provided by Raytheon.”

Aviation minister Baroness Elizabeth Sugg helped judge the competition, and she was excited to see engineering talent of the future in action.

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“It is great to see the potential of these future engineers and to see Raytheon championing science and engineering skills across the UK with this excellent competition,” she said.

“Through our aviation strategy we are exploring how new technologies like drones and urban air mobility vehicles will transform the way we travel.

“It is vital that we develop the skills of our young people now so the UK stays at the forefront of transport innovation.

“There are many exciting careers in aerospace and aviation. Through our Year of Engineering, we are working to ensure young people from all backgrounds are aware of, and able to access, the many opportunities these jobs offer.”

Raytheon’s STEM ambassadors helped mentor the teams, with Alex Rose-Parfitt – the defence contractor’s UK engineering director – saying: “Raytheon is eager to do its part to inspire Britain’s next generation of engineers.

“A unique aspect of the Quadcopter Challenge is the mentoring that teams receive from our STEM ambassadors, who as well as offering advice on aerodynamics and technical tips, act as relatable, local role models, showing the huge potential of a career in STEM.”

Since the Quadcopter Challenge started in 2015, more than 1,000 young people have taken part, with the participation rate climbing 50 per cent in two years.

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