The Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC) project is one of the most exciting and dynamic engineering challenges going on today. The project aims to reach out to young people to encourage them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), underpinning the Institution's strategic objective of 'inspiring the next generation'.
The Institution is one of the key sponsors of Bloodhound SSC, which aims to break the world land speed record of 763 mph in spring 2016, with a 1,000mph attempt in South Africa planned for later on in the year.
The Bloodhound roadshow, which spanned three different events across the country, allowed all members, students and the general public the opportunity to meet the project team, take a closer look at the 13m supersonic model car and take part in the many activities that were held at each event.
Bloodhound’s first stop was the North East England Greenpower Heat for the Formula 24 and Formula 24 Plus categories of car at Croft Motor Circuit on 7 July 2015. This annual event aims to inspire fledgling engineers aged 9-25 as they design, develop, manufacture, validate, trial and race a car powered by electricity alone.
In addition to the heat, there were many other STEM activities, including a Bloodhound activity, for groups of students to get involved with.
During the Bloodhound activity, the Bloodhound team explained the projects and principles behind the car, using practical demonstrations to illustrate their points. Students and members of the public were able to put questions to the team throughout the presentation.
With an attendance of 1,000 schoolchildren, parents, teachers and spectators, the event was a roaring success. Mike Lambert CEng FIMechE, Chair of the Tyne Tees Automotive Division, said: “Since my involvement in the Greenpower programme 18 months ago, and in my 40 years of being an engineer and the last 25 years being involved in Corporate Responsibility type work, I’ve not seen a project that so directly engages young students and volunteers so much in a very meaningful way, and gets across the STEM message, and generates an interest in youngsters to want to be an engineer.”
On 10 July, Bloodhound SSC moved on to the Thameswey STEM event at the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Hazebrouck Barracks in Berkshire. Here, the activities surrounding Bloodhound were split into four phases:
- A military viewing session, in which military student technicians and engineers were able to take a closer look at the model and meet with the display team and ambassadors.
- School STEM activities, involving a discussion and demonstration from the Bloodhound team, as well as Bloodhound balloon car ‘build and race’ activities.
- An open viewing session, in which members of the Institution and the general public were able to have a ‘tour and explore’ of the car.
- An evening presentation by Major Oli Morgan CEng MIMechE, REME Aircraft Engineering Officer, Team Leader for the Army’s involvement in Bloodhound SSC and the Institution's 2014 Modern Day Visionary. The presentation focused on technical aspects of the car, the land speed record history and the social and economic benefits to the local South African community.
Paul Smithen CEng MIMechE, who co-ordinated the event, said: “The Bloodhound visit was a great success. We had over 100 children visit and partake in the balloon car making and racing, which went down very well – and not a cut finger in sight either!
“The evening presentation was also very well delivered by Oli Morgan and covered a broad range of topics, from the technical aspects of the car to the social and economic benefits of the project - and it kept the whole audience engaged throughout.”
Bloodhound rounded off its tour with an appearance at the Institution’s flagship student motorsport competition, Formula Student 2015, on 11 July.
The world-famous event, which challenged student engineers to design, build and race a single seat racing car in one year, was attended by more than 3,000 students, plus spectators, volunteers and other Institution members.
Throughout the day, Bloodhound attracted great interest from members, student motorsport enthusiasts and the general public, who were able to meet with the project team and Bloodhound ambassadors and ask questions.
The Institution’s Marketing Operations Director, James Hobbs, commented: “We need to encourage more young people to pursue careers in STEM subjects, to ensure we have the right skills to keep the country’s economy growing and to tackle the big challenges facing humankind like rising population and climate change.
“At the moment the number of people pursuing STEM careers is just not enough to meet future demands, which is why inspiring young people through the Bloodhound SSC project is so important.
“We hope that by showcasing the Bloodhound SSC car, students will realise the hugely exciting prospects there are in pursuing a career in engineering and STEM more generally.”
Read more about Bloodhound SSC
Read more about Formula Student 2015