Local business helps Bedfordshire schools compete in major robotics tournament


Four Bedfordshire schools have been helped to the regional final of a major robotics competition by a local engineering company.

Lockheed Martin UK supported students at Goldington Academy, Wootton Upper School, Samuel Whitbread Academy and Redborne Upper School as they competed against teams from outside the county to try and win a coveted spot at the VEX robotics national finals. 

The Ampthill-based company provided the four local schools with complete kits to create their own robots, and assigned each school an engineering graduate mentor to work with them to develop and build their designs. The ultimate aim was to produce a robot that would collect and deposit the most cones in the VEX arena, and hopefully progress through to the national final next month.

Chris Dent, Head of Research and Technology at Lockheed Martin UK, said: “We are passionate about promoting STEM subjects and careers, and showing young students the huge breadth of opportunities available. It’s important we inspire a new generation of talented young people so the UK can continue to produce great innovation in engineering and technology.

“Events like these are a very successful way to spark that interest in STEM. We worked with each of the schools, giving them not only the kit but also the knowledge, experience and enthusiasm of our dedicated outreach team.

“To see the teams so committed to the competition was brilliant and we’re incredibly proud of every one of them.”

Each robot was different, but they all had the same goal – stacking cones during a series of tightly-contested rounds to accrue points. The team with the highest number of points would win a place at the prestigious national final.

After a full day of matches and knockout rounds the honour was eventually awarded to entrants outside of the county, with an alliance of Samuel Whitbread and Wootton Upper narrowly missing out in a respectable second place.

Amy Spencer, Head of Science at Goldington Academy, said: “Even though our teams didn’t go through to the nationals, they did immensely well. Each round of the competition had an autonomous section – where the robots were pre-programmed – and then a remote controlled section, so the students learned to write some pretty complicated code. They also developed a wider range of important life skills – teamwork, resilience, confidence and social skills.

“It’s been an amazing experience for everyone that’s taken part and one that we’ll definitely try again in the future.” 

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