The McLaren High School junior robotics team won the Tomorrows Engineers EEP Robotics Challenge 2017/18, and as part of their prize were given a 3-day engineering experience visiting two RAF bases and the headquarters of a Formula 1 team.
17 Jul 2018
On Monday 18 June we went to RAF Cranwell and had a really interesting tour looking at some of the historic aspects of the base and learned a lot about the history of the RAF. This was especially interesting as this is the centenary year of the RAF so it was great to see the aspects that have changed, but also some of the traditions which have remained over time. We then got to visit a Flight Simulator where we flew a 120TP Prefect above the base and surrounding area which was incredible. We then had our dinner in the Officers Mess – this was really interesting as it gave us an opportunity to get an insight into the day-to-day lives of officers in the RAF and be able to see first-hand how they operate and interact with each other.
On Tuesday we travelled to RAF Coningsby. Our first visit was to Survival Equipment Flight. We learned about what happens when a pilot needs to eject from their plane and how their parachute is deployed. We got to see all the survival equipment the pilot would carry in a number of different situations and learn about how it all works together.
We then went on to the Typhoon Training Facility where we got to use the cutting-edge flight simulators used in the training of Typhoon pilots. We got to use it in a Star Wars scenario which was amazing! After lunch we then got to see a Typhoon close up as part of our visit to the 3rd Fighter squadron. We got a tour around the plane learning about its key features and we each got to sit in the cockpit!
Our final visit was to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight museum where we got to see Spitfires, Hurricanes and a Lancaster bomber –one of only 2 operational Lancasters in the world. We learned all about the history of these planes and the differences between each version of them – it was fascinating.
On Wednesday we travelled to the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team Operations Centre. The team had just arrived back from the Canadian Grand Prix in Toronto. Since so much of what they are doing at the Operations Centre relates to their current cars we were not allowed to take photos of most of what we saw while we were there. We learned a lot about the precision engineering required for an F1 car and the incredibly tight tolerances they have for each piece of equipment. We saw the testing facilities they use to model the forces applied to a car as it moves around a track to ensure that each change made is improving the car in the way it was designed. It was a fascinating visit from start to finish and we had a great time.
"Learning about the fine margins and tolerances to create a winning F1 car showed how small changes can lead to large increases in performance which is a lesson we can apply to our Robotics work and STEM projects."
"I loved the simulators – it was great fun getting to try landing an aircraft – it was something I never thought I would get the chance to do"
"I loved going behind the scenes at the F1 Operations Centre, not only for the mechanics, but to see the engineering and design work that goes into an F1 car. It was really inspiring. It was also great to see people using AutoCAD software similar to the software I use in school and at home."
"I found it incredible to see how much the RAF use computers – particularly the CAD/CAM equipment to build parts for the planes they use."