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2015 challenge: Get schools involved

08 May 2015

Getting the brightest  young people to consider a career in engineering is vitally important to make sure that our industry is competitive in the future. Identifying those young people and enthusing them about the industry is the aim of the MTA’s TDI Challenge – a nationwide competition for those aged 14-19 and studying for design and technology qualifications

Everyone knows that engineering faces a skills shortage. We have an ageing workforce and a desperate need to attract new entrants into the industry to replace retirees and the lost generation who were never recruited as the industry contracted in the 1980s and 90s. However, it’s not just a numbers game. 


Spread the word 

The TDI challenge 2015 is open for entries and we need your help to spread the word. We know a number of companies in our industry have links with their local schools, so why not get them recognition for their hard work?


The TDI Challenge can help teachers and lecturers to promote the great work of their D&T and Engineering students and to celebrate the creativity and innovation taking place inside the curriculum. 


Who should enter?


Anyone aged 14 to19 who has created an impressive Design & Technology project within their school or college.

Why enter?
Why not? It's free and there's nothing to lose, and students could win an iPad or a graphics tablet. Plus, finalists get a tour of a modern manufacturing plant and the opportunity to build links with their local engineering firms.

To enter
Simply download an application form at www.mta.org.uk/tdi, and send one or two pages of the project with a completed application. 

What marks TDI out from other prizes in the field is the finals day at which the finalists display their portfolio of work at the Worcester plant of machine tool manufacturer Mazak. As well as the work displayed, students give a presentation to the judging panel who decide the overall prize winners.

As part of the final day experience all the finalists are taken on a guided tour of the state of the art plant and the European Technology Centre. They also receive a presentation certificate and a goodie bag to take home.

The MTA supports the schools and colleges of finalists with publicity material to help them capitalise on the achievements of their students and raise the profile of Design and Technology in their own localities. 

In 2014 the two winners were: Ben Murray from Balcarras School, Cheltenham, in the 14 to 16 years category, with his design for a hand held stabiliser for filming on a mobile phone; and Charlie Smith, from Sedbergh School, Cumbria, in the 17 to 19 years category, for his innovative ‘SOLA’, a water heating stove for outdoor expeditions.

Howard Bamforth, chair of the judges and sales director of 600 UK, said, "The judging panel was impressed with the high calibre of the finalists and the range of different technologies they used. That made judging particularly difficult but two entries stood out even from such a high quality field. Charlie Smith and Ben Murray both presented work of very high standard that had been thoroughly researched, well manufactured and were virtually ready for sale. Congratulations to them and their schools."

Ben Murray said: "The competition was a wonderful experience and I enjoyed looking over all the other projects on display, as well as the Mazak factory.” 

Charlie Smith said: "I’m really delighted to have won. I put a lot of work into the project and it’s great to have that recognised and feel rewarded.”


The MTA seeks to maintain links with previous winners to see how they progress in the future. Charlie Smith, is currently in talks with an MTA member with regard to manufacturing his product. He is currently studying at Brunel University but continues to progress his design. The MTA was also able to put Charlie in touch with the 2041 International Antarctic Expedition, on which one of the participants was being sponsored by the Association. That gave him a valuable route to an endorsement of his product to make it stand out in the expeditions market.