MPs help to launch schools rocketry challenge


Engineering apprentices passed on their skills to a group of 25 MPs during a rocket-launching challenge in Westminster to mark the launch of a nationwide 11 to 18 rocketry challenge.

Engineering apprentices passed on their skills to a group of 25 MPs during a rocket-launching challenge in Westminster to mark the launch of a nationwide rocketry challenge.

The 2014 UK Aerospace Youth Rocketry Challenge sees teams of students aged 11 to 18 designing, building and launching their own rockets to “exacting specifications”.

The competition this week was a taster of the main event and saw MPs assemble and launch air-powered rockets with the assistance of the apprentices in their team. The aim was to achieve the greatest horizontal distance.

The team of Chloe Smith MP won the competition, followed by Roger Gale MP in second place and Stephen Mosley MP in third. The apprentices taking part were from a range of companies, including Airbus, GE Aviation, RLC Engineering and UTC Aerospace Systems.

The Youth Rocketry Challenge 2014 is expected to be the biggest yet, with places for 150 teams. Teams taking part must have three to five members aged 11 to 18 and their “flying aerospace vehicle” must meet a specified set of mission and performance requirements.

The challenge for 2014 is to achieve a target altitude of 825 feet. The payload is two raw medium-sized hen’s eggs which should return safely to earth using two parachutes of the same size.

The prize is competing in the International Fly-Off against the American, French and Japanese winning teams at the Farnborough Show in June 2014 as well as an aerospace trip to Paris and Toulouse in France.

The Westminster event was also part of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, an initiative organised by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Running from November 4 to 8, the week aims to showcase the variety of engineering career options available to young people and the official website hosts a range of resources, including careers information and specific sections for students aged 11 to 14, 14 to 16 and 16 to 19.

Among the activities during the week was the publication of a list detailing the UK’s eight “engineering wonders”, aimed at inspiring students to consider engineering as a career.

The list has been compiled by more than 50 engineering experts and includes The Eden Project in Cornwall, the UK’s contribution to wind power, and the construction of the giant Airbus A380.

The week also coincided with the publication of a Review of Engineer Skills by Professor John Perkins, the chief scientific advisor to BIS. The review calls upon the government, industry, and the education sector to work together to inspire more young people into engineering.

For details of the Rocketry Challenge, visit

For more on Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, including the resources and the full list and photo gallery of the eight UK engineering wonders, see

CAPTION: Take-off: The winner of the Rocketry Competition, Chloe Smith MP, launches her rocket alongside Simon Wright MP (top); Ms Smith is crowned champion alongside the two apprentices who supported her (above)


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