Ocado Go4SET Hub - a roaring success
This week marked the close of the Go4SET Hub, a phenomenal initiative that gave students the chance to truly experience life as an engineer. Ocado Engineering and the Ocado Foundation partnered with the EDT, inspiring students to pursue STEM subjects, develop skills, and heighten their appreciation of environmental issues. This has been a fantastic way to extend the message of the Year of Engineering; the Government’s year-long campaign celebrating and raising the profile of the engineering industry among students nationwide.
At Ocado, we’ve always had a keen focus on education. Outreach initiatives to open up a world of possibilities to students will, in time, help to bridge the skills gap we face in this ever-evolving industry. Not to mention the opportunities and job satisfaction that engineering careers hold for students inspired to pursue them. To find out more about the problems facing engineering today and what we can do within the UK to help inspire the next generation of engineers, read our recent blog.
The seven week Go4SET program kicked off with a visit to our head office in Hatfield, Hertfordshire. Twenty-five students from three local schools were introduced to the initiative and divided into groups of five. The first challenge was to build a load-bearing straw tower – designed to get students in the right frame of mind and help them work as a team. With the day well underway and creative juices flowing, students were introduced to the main project: the Eco Factory. The overall brief was to design a factory that uses sustainable and eco-friendly methods to produce the energy it needs.
Students were asked questions designed to help them think about all aspects of manufacturing and how processes could be carried out more sustainably. We were lucky enough to have some fantastic mentors from Ocado Engineering and Ocado Technology who volunteered to offer guidance and insight throughout the seven week project. After the introduction to Eco Factory, students met mentors for the first time to discuss initial ideas before heading to our Hatfield Customer Fulfillment Center to help them better understand large production facilities.
Back at their respective schools with regular mentor visits, the students got started on their real world project. With just seven weeks to complete their factory from initial concept to design, the race was on!
We were curious to see what they came up with, and heard very positive things from Ocado mentors, but we didn’t get to see the final result until the Go4SET celebration day held at Ocado head office.
Each team presented their project and everyone was very impressed with the progress made and the understanding demonstrated. Teams were quizzed by a panel of judges tasked to pick the winning project. Every team showed great engagement with each other and their designs.
Madhavi Kotecha, Project Engineer at Ocado Engineering, talked to students about her path into engineering and ran a fun challenge where teams built towers using spaghetti and marshmallows. The best towers were built by teams who took time over the initial planning stages; those who didn’t soon realised how important forward planning was to successful design.
Greg Hutton, Head of Construction and Engineering at Ocado Engineering, lead the closing awards ceremony, discussing the Year of Engineering and what it means to be an engineer.
We’d like to congratulate the Bicycle Barn team from Stanborough School, who took home the overall Go4SET prize. Every team demonstrated initiative, worked hard, and learned a lot during the process! Additional congratulations go to Moneco, the team that students felt deserved the Students’ Choice Award.
All students showed plenty of promise, and we hope the opportunity gave them a taste for engineering in the real world. The Go4SET Ocado course was a roaring success, and it was fantastic to see young people engaged with and enthusiastic about engineering. Students gave fantastic feedback, and our mentors were delighted to hear how much their teams enjoyed the course.
Phoebe, from Stanborough School, said: “I have learnt a lot from the experience about how to apply my knowledge in different areas. Sometimes it was a little overwhelming but the good times we had as a group outweighed them. If you are thinking of doing it, it is a big time commitment; however, if I had the chance to, I would do it again as I have learnt a lot from the experience.”
A teach from Stanborough explained: “The time and expertise so generously shared by the engineer mentors, not only enabled the students to complete the project at hand, but has undoubtedly impacted their long-term thinking about subject choices and future careers. The experience has opened their eyes to the potential of a career in engineering and to a world-class employer right on our doorstep.”
We hope educational initiatives like this will positively impact the engineering industry and the perception of engineering as a whole. In the meantime, we’re happy students enjoyed the course and developed skills they can apply throughout their education and beyond…