It was fantastic to be able to take part in MAPP’s Engineer Experience Day at the University of Sheffield.

Kirk Balk pupils at the student led maker space in The Diamond, University of Sheffield.
Kirk Balk pupils during the tour of The Diamond, University of Sheffield.

Year Ten Design & Technology pupils from Kirk Balk Academy, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, visited MAPP’s Sheffield base in September.

Organised by MAPP Project Administrator Elinor Noble and supported by the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering, the event gave pupils a chance to find out more about engineering, in particular, additive manufacturing (AM).

Dr Charis Bronze, Widening Participation Officer, Faculty of Engineering, University of Sheffield, opened the event with an introduction to engineering, including a fun exercise illustrating the importance of communication to engineers. 

MAPP investigator Dr Kamran Mumtaz then gave a talk about AM, pitched perfectly for the audience, explaining AM and its uses. The talk led to lively discussion throughout the day about the future of AM, what AM can and cannot do and the cost of AM machines and materials. 

Kirk Balk pupils at Garden Street
Kirk Balk pupils watching AM in action

The interesting talk included the use of the development of bicycles as an example of how engineers continually improve upon designs using new technology and a case study looking at the AM design of a Bugatti brake caliper.

The talk was followed by tours of two laboratories that are home to members of MAPP. MAPP academics, PhD students and colleagues explained what the hub does and the capabilities of the AM machines in the laboratories. Students also had a chance to handle a wide range of items made on the machines.

The pupils were also taken on a tour of the University of Sheffield’s Diamond building, a striking structure that is home to more than 5000 students from the Faculty of Engineering, state of the art laboratories and a student maker space. 

Engineering Challenge tower - Kirk Balk
One of the towers built as part of the Engineering Challenge during the Kirk Balk visit

The day closed with a fun Engineering Challenge Activity led by Dr Bronze. It was great to see the school children working together against the clock, using straws, paper and sticky tape, to build towers that would hold a small load without collapsing. 

The running of the event was supported by some of the university’s fantastic Student Ambassadors. They answered a lot of interesting questions from the Kirk Balk pupils about studying engineering and about the university.

It was great to meet all the pupils and their teachers and hear some of the young people's enthusiasm for AM.

Kirk Balk pupils with AM artefacts
Kirk Balk pupils with items produced by AM