Students set to soar with unique design challenge

South Yorkshire students have been handed a unique engineering challenge with the prize to be part of a new experience celebrating an inspirational aircraft icon.

The Vulcan to the Sky Trust (VTST) has partnered with The Work-Wise Foundation to launch a competition for students to design an exhibition stand for an original Vulcan Bomb Bay fuel tank that was once installed in XH558.

The winning design will be displayed to the public at the new Vulcan Experience Hangar at Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

VTST, the charity behind the iconic Avro Vulcan XH558 aircraft, is fundraising for the hangar – The Vulcan Experience – with plans to open next year. A key focus will be on educating and inspiring the next generation of engineers, while paying tribute to an example of British aerospace engineering at its world-beating best.

The Vulcan Experience will also be home to the Green Technology Hub, an area where young people can explore the climate challenge. Students and teachers from Doncaster UTC, Eckington School, Newfield School, Rossington All Saints Academy, Sheffield Girls School, Swinton Academy, Trinity Academy and Westfield School were welcomed to two open days recently at CBE+ and South Yorkshire Air Museum.

Mal Staniforth, volunteer at the VTST and former Vulcan pilot, told students about the history of the Vulcan and how their designs would help to inspire young people at The Vulcan Experience. Students were shown the fuel tank, which weighs 800kg (about the same as a large cow or F1 race car) and given a tour of the Vulcan cockpit.

They were also given a detailed explanation of the design brief from research and design expert Steve Wainwright, director at DN4 Innovation Management Ltd. As they work on the project, student teams will have weekly calls with Steve and experts from The Work-Wise Foundation.

Completed designs will be submitted by the end of November and judged in December. The winning design will be manufactured by Steve, multi-disciplinary sub-contractor CBE+ and the winning student team, before being unveiled at the Get up to Speed with STEM event on March 23 next year.

John Sharman, chair of VTST, said: “The exhibition stand for the fuel tank will have a prime location within The Vulcan Experience so it needs to be attractive and engaging for children and adults, and of course, structurally sound.

“One of the key goals of The Vulcan Experience is to engage and inspire the next generations of engineers. This challenge is a unique opportunity for students to learn from the past to design and create their own innovations for today.”

The Work-Wise Foundation, an employer-led charity for STEM fields such as engineering and manufacturing, supports the development of young people within the Sheffield City Region.

John Barber, CEO of The Work-wise Foundation, said: “We are so excited to be working in partnership with Vulcan to the Sky Trust and CBE+ on this important project.

“We spent two days with some of the students involved and it was amazing to see their passion for the aircraft and sparks of ideas come to life for their competition entries. This project not only celebrates the history of the Vulcan XH558, but it also gives the students the opportunity to work on designing and building a project just like they would in the world of work.

“We can’t wait to see the finished designs and showcase the winning entry at Get up to Speed with STEM in March 2022.”

For more information on VTST, visit: 

For more information on The Work-Wise Foundation, visit:

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