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The University of Southampton

Southampton students inspire teen engineers to win national innovation awards

Published: 6 October 2020
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The Teen Tech Awards challenge pupils to showcase innovation, skills and research.

Aspiring young engineers from Folkestone School for Girls won TeenTech Awards for practical designs to real-world problems with support from two students from the University of Southampton.

Final year MEng Ship Science students Mary Strutt and Alex Pardoe rapidly produced high-quality 3D renders and CAD movies during lockdown to boost the pupils’ entries to the national innovation competition.

The designs for rotating supermarket shelves and an electric camping kettle received TeenTech Awards in the Business and Retail category and for Best Research and Literacy in this summer’s virtual final.

The TeenTech Awards encourage UK students aged between 11 and 19 to develop their own ideas for making life better, simpler, safer or more fun. Around 1,500 pupils took part in this year’s competition.

Folkestone’s Lucy and Isabel, known as team ‘Shelf-it’, and Georgia and Emily, team ‘CampersCuppa’, sent out a call to help to visualise their innovations ahead of the national final.

Shelf-it proposed shop shelves that rotate in a Ferris wheel motion, allowing shorter people or wheelchair users to access the full range of items. CampersCuppa was designed to prepare hot drinks sustainably when camping and included two batteries that can be used to simultaneously power and charge the kettle.

“I was delighted to use my skills to inspire young engineers after receiving an email from one of my lecturers asking for helpers,” Mary says. “I am so proud of the students’ achievements - their ideas were unique and well designed. They deserve all of this success.”

The successful Year 9 and 10 pupils are now following Mary and Alex's example of inspiring others as Gold TeenTech Ambassadors in the national programme. Folkestone School for Girls has also been recognised as TeenTech Gold Centre of Innovation and Creativity.

School Principal Mark Lester says: “The girls and school were extremely grateful for the invaluable support from the University of Southampton. The teams were incredibly proud to showcase the professional visualisations of their concepts as part of their presentations. We would like extend our gratitude to Alex, Mary and Professor Stephen Turnock for their generosity of time and expertise.”

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