Inspiring the next generation of engineers with coffee cups, sticky tape and enthusiasm

BP is supporting the UK government-led 2018 Year of Engineering campaign and to celebrate, four UK sites in Sunbury, Pangbourne, Hull, and Aberdeen - are holding inspiration days, opening their doors to hundreds of local school children to show them engineering in action

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On 20 June BP’s International Centre for Business and Technology in Sunbury hosted over 130 young people from local schools Thomas Knyvett College and Matthew Arnold School. Aged 12 and 13 the students came to discover the  BP world of engineering. In a bid to inspire the next generation of innovators, inventors and problem solvers, 60 BP engineers spent the day talking to students about the different types of engineering, what it takes to become an engineer and the opportunities that are available for students who study STEM subjects.

“From spaceships to ice skates, the bubbles in chocolate bars to life-saving cancer treatment, engineering touches every part of our lives. However, not enough young people – especially young girls – think it’s a world for them. As a result, the engineering industry is struggling to recruit future talent. What’s more, young people are missing out on the chance to make a positive difference to both their futures, that of the planet and everything that calls it home.“ The Year of Engineering 2018

The students had the opportunity to chat with many different types of BP engineers during the inspiration day. They learned about subsea engineering and how our engineers manage the flow of oil safely in miles of deep water.  They saw how computer aided design is being used to help model platforms so that they can withstand the physical impact of huge seas and keep the people who work on-board safe, and how we are using robotics in engineering to keep our pipelines in top working condition.

They learned how oil and gas is transported around the world by BP shipping and how 3D printing can be used to produce replacement parts in remote locations.  There were even geologists on hand to show the students the different types of rocks and core samples, and how this knowledge can help BP to predict where oil or gas may be discovered. 

They were also able to participate in some interactive activities using gaming controllers to fly the drones on site and got to virtually explore some of our platforms and refineries inside our Igloo virtual reality training facility.

“Today is an amazing opportunity to really get to know what BP does. Engineering is at the core of what happens at this fantastic facility and after today I hope you can discover what career you want to follow.”
Kwasi Kwarteng, MP for Spelthorne

Learning how to turn off gas valves in our Igloo virtual reality training facility

The kids were fascinated by the drone cameras

Creating their platforms from paper cups, tape and paper

Strengthening the platform supports

There were some really good examples of great team throughout the day

Learning how to build a platform

Learning from one of our engineering volunteers

Time for our engineer to learn?

It takes a team to operate safely in a virtual world!

Learning about rocks and fossils

Kwasi Karteng, MP for Spelthorne

This is a model of a BP Xmas tree!

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After a busy morning the students  were set an EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) challenge, which involved setting up a bidding company and building a platform out of espresso cups, straws, tape, cling film, drinks stirrers and paper.  The teams had to build a platform that was at least 30cm high that could support one full bottle of water for 5 seconds without damaging the main structure. The students were allocated funding to purchase additional building materials and their BP mentor advised them how best to build a strong structure whilst keeping their costs down. 

Congratulations to the winning team from Matthew Arnold School with BP mentor Nicola Cummings. Runners up were also from Matthew Arnold School with BP mentor Oliver Wills.

A secret ‘design award’ was given for the most innovative idea during the competition. This was awarded to the Matthew Arnold School with BP mentor Julian Austin and the team from Thomas Knyvett College with BP mentor Donald Campbell-Brown received a special commendation for good team work.

The huge scale of this engineering inspiration day for local school students was a first for the Sunbury site. Aleida Rios, head of upstream engineering said, “This is the first event of its kind at this site - we host a lot of STEM initiatives but for this event we directly linked over 60 enthusiastic BP engineers with eager school students and the result has been excellent – motivated engineers and inspired students!”

By the end of the year, over 250 students will have participated in one of BP’s Year of Engineering days in the UK, but the work to inspire the next generation doesn’t stop here. To find out more about the Year of Engineering campaign click here.

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