Scunthorpe students 'flying high' after winning prestigious engineering competition
Daniel White, left, and Dan Johnson with their award-winning instrument panel
By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 3 Jul 2017
Two Scunthorpe school students are flying high after winning a prestigious engineering competition.
Frederick Gough students Dan Johnson and Daniel White, both 15, beat entries from schools across Yorkshire and the Humber to win the BAE Blackburn Seaplane competition, run by BAE Systems.
The Freddy’s Flyers’ winning entry saw them design and make a replica flight instrument panel with a working altimeter.
The competition marked last year’s centenary of the first 1916 Blackburn Seaplane being built at the BAE Systems aircraft site at Brough, East Yorkshire, and asked students what instruments they would have included in the cockpit if they had designed the Seaplane 100 years ago.
Jacqui McKenzie, Early Careers Lead at BAE in Brough, said: “The entry from Frederick Gough School was simply outstanding. The students have obviously undertaken a considerable amount of research into the aircraft from 1916.
“The actual working example created was of a very high standard, showing a good choice of materials and construction techniques.”
Daniel said the competition appealed to them because of their interest in electronics, while Dan’s father works at Humberside Airport so he had developed an interest from visits up the control tower to see how things worked at close hand.
“We initially researched the plane and found out which instrument panels were used at the time and their dimensions. There are not any pictures of the plane’s cockpit, that was the whole point of the competition - what it might have looked like,” said Daniel.
“We found some coding online, some of which was in French and in metres, we converted it into feet and translated all the code into English. That was quite complicated.”
Frederick Gough design and technology teacher Simon Huntridge, left, with Dan Johnson after testing the altimeter during a skydive at Hibaldstow
The Year 10 students designed the panel on 2D design software and cut it out of plywood and acrylic on a laser cutter.
The altimeter was made using an Arduino microcontroller, an air pressure module and an OLED display powered by a LIPO battery. Considerable work was done to configure the software to display the height in feet.
Final calibration tests were carried out by their design and technology teacher Simon Huntridge during a skydive at Hibaldstow.
Mr Huntridge said: “The first calibration was done and was set out in metres. I went up to 15,000 feet, did the maths on the way up and it was perfect.
“I noted the exit altitude, matched it with the aircraft’s altitude and it was perfect. During the skydive, I was looking at the height in metres and worked out that in feet it was spot-on accurate. It is a credit to two outstanding students.”
Dan watched Mr Huntridge testing the altimeter and was delighted with the results.
“It was satisfying to know it had worked and it was perfectly accurate, it was a relief so we could crack on with the other bits, confirmation that we had got it right,” he said.
The students, who hope to follow careers in engineering or aviation, delivered a presentation on their project to a panel of engineers from BAE Systems.
“They seemed very happy with it and we were both quite happy when we were told we had won,” said Daniel.
Headteacher Ben Lawrance said: “I am delighted for the boys, not only did they design and make something that takes a great deal of knowledge and skill, they also presented with a great deal of confidence and the feedback from the judges was superb.
“It is a great affirmation for Frederick Gough that we continue to offer a wide range of Design and Technology subjects and brilliant to see these two take full advantage of it.”
The students’ prize will see them visit the BAE Systems Warton site in Lancashire to tour the Hawk and Typhoon Manufacturing facilities and demonstrate their own pilot skills with the opportunity to fly in the Typhoon flight simulator, which is used to train pilots.