Bedford Academy team triumphs in robot egg challenge

Bedford Academy Techbox Challenge winners - back from left, Ashleigh Dabell (physics teacher), Radek Lakomy (18), Saif Amir (16), Neil Hebron (Lockheed Martin UK Ampthills Director of Engineering); front row l-r: Matt Menin (18), Chiara Pernigo (17), Daniel Herman (18)
Bedford Academy Techbox Challenge winners - back from left, Ashleigh Dabell (physics teacher), Radek Lakomy (18), Saif Amir (16), Neil Hebron (Lockheed Martin UK Ampthills Director of Engineering); front row l-r: Matt Menin (18), Chiara Pernigo (17), Daniel Herman (18)

A team from Bedford Academy has won a competition for building a robotic system to free an egg from captivity with breaking it.

Mark Rutherford School was among the four schools who took on the Great Eggscape TechBox Challenge hosted by Ampthill engineering business Lockheed Martin UK at their site, on Friday, March 18.

Mark Rutherford School at Techbox Challenge

Mark Rutherford School at Techbox Challenge

The prison was created with a number of different exit routes and in a close-run contest, students from the academy navigated their robot down a narrow passageway and over the lasers to achieve freedom - and victory.

Delighted Matt Menin, 18, of the winning Bedford Academy team, said: “We’re speechless. It was such a close contest. We never expected to win; our goal was just not to fail.

“We’re not engineering students, we’re a physics class and we’ve been doing this after school every day for six weeks. It’s been a really intense time and it’s only in the last few days that it all came together. We always wanted to go for the narrow shaft route out of the prison but we changed our strategy in the last attempt and it paid off. It’s amazing to win.”

The challenge was run by Lockheed Martin UK graduates as part of their outreach work to inspire young people into science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and careers.

Teams were scored on the creativity of their design and the speed of completion, as well as how undamaged the egg was by the experience. Different exit routes also offered different levels of points.

The extremely tense challenge saw eggs dropped, wedged in doorways and rolled into lava, and robots jammed into tight corners and stuck on broken walls. Everyone managed at least one successful escape out of the permitted three tries and in the final results there was just half a point between first and second place.

Lockheed Martin’s Professor Steve Burnage is passionate about promoting STEM subjects and was involved throughout the challenge. He said: “I’m very proud of the work we do with schools and colleges to get young people enthused by these subjects. We’re helping to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists and it appears the standard is very high.

“I have been really impressed by what I’ve seen today and by the creativity and engineering design applied by each team to the task. They’ve had to consider how to pick up and release the egg, adjust the speed, height, width and weight of their system, program and control it, and make sure the whole thing is fit for the purpose of the escape route they chose. They obviously worked incredibly hard.

“The TechBox Challenge is something we’ve run for a few years now and it’s always great fun and very inspiring.”

Bedford Academy’s preparations for the TechBox Challenge were filmed for their BBC School Report – watch here: http://bedfordacademy.co.uk/bbc-school-report/196.html