Maker Challenge 2022: A look back at a year of youth innovation
A year of innovation from this year’s Maker Challenge cohorts – an outreach programme for local young people to bring their ideas to life.
The Maker Challenge is one of Imperial College London’s innovative outreach programmes. The Maker Challenge empowers local young people to solve real-world problems through design and engineering.
"I have been so impressed by the creativity, enthusiasm and determination of our Maker Challenge participants." Melanie Bottrill Head of Outreach
Supported by Imperial experts and with access to world-class facilities, 2022 saw 94 young people aged 14-18 take part in the challenge across five cohorts: 21-25.
Melanie Bottrill, Head of Outreach Programmes, said “I have been so impressed by the creativity, enthusiasm and determination of our Maker Challenge participants. Its been wonderful to see how they have bought their ideas to life during their time on the programme – we love seeing how they use different skills and techniques to solve problems.”
As part of the programme, participants created prototypes of their inventions and presented their ideas to a panel of judges and family members. One parent said, “I can’t tell you as a working mum how wonderful it was to come home every night to see Charlie so happy having had such an enjoyable day, mentally stimulated and so happy having met so many lovely, interesting people and new friends, also very tired (in a good way!)"
The next Maker Challenge cohorts will take place in July and August with applications opening in the Spring.
Bringing music to the deaf community
Write like the wind
“I cycle a lot so it was inspiration from that and people around me. When you extend your arm it turns on and when you indicate with your hand it turns off. It uses a flex sensor as the safety feature,” said Viona. “It was rewarding seeing stuff work... I actually enjoyed it more than I thought. Everyone was welcoming and really helpful”
Life after the Maker Challenge
Some graduates have taken an alternative path, such as Aaron (winner of cohort 7 with his project Visor), who is now undertaking a Degree Apprenticeship in Electronic Engineering.
“It’s been 3 years since my time at the Makerspace and I’d love to let you know how the experience has impacted me. I am currently working at Airbus Space on a Degree Apprenticeship studying Electronic Engineering. I’m just about to enter my second year after achieving a first for my first year.
“During my Airbus interview I made sure to reference to my experience on the Maker Challenge as it definitely affirmed my decision to pursue an engineering/design career. I had originally intended to study Design Engineering at Loughborough, however when presented with the opportunity of 4 years of paid work experience?in addition to having my degree paid for I had to go for it.
“Continuing my passion for Outreach I’ve made sure to join Airbus’ Outreach team with the hope I’ll be able to spread my enjoyment of STEM with others. My Makerspace win along with the experience associated with it are all memories that will definitely remain with me for a long time. Thank you all.”
Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School were awarded 1st place for their invention, “Maestro – make music while you game!”. Maestro is a gaming controller where every button creates sound from a different instrument, which once connected to a phone allows the user to compose music with just one controller. Their prize is a 3D printer for the school and the chance to work with a professional designer at the Makerspace to bring their idea to life.
Local Community Engagement
The team also developed a bespoke design and engineering activity for the local W12 Festival. The activity was a biomimetics project where young people built their own artificial hand using straws for fingers and strings as tendons. Approximately 50 attendees engaged with the Makerspace stall and took part in the activity.
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