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Committed to local talent as Blackpool school scoops £10,000 science prize

Cuadrilla is delighted that future scientists and engineers from Highfield Leadership Academy have scooped the £10,000 first prize of science funding for their school in the seventh annual Young Engineers challenge at Blackpool and The Fylde College.

Passionate about encouraging more young people to enter the engineering profession, the onshore shale gas operator has sponsored this key event since 2012 and to date has donated over £80,000 through the programme to improve science facilities in local schools.

Jill Overland, Finance & Business Services Director at Cuadrilla, said: “We have been involved with this fantastic event for the last seven years as we are passionate about encouraging and developing the next generation of engineering talent in the county.”

This year’s competition saw 17 teams from schools across the Fylde coast compete to create a hydraulic excavator. The syringe-driven mechanics were then tested with each school having two timed attempts to dig into a bucket of rice and move as much as possible – with the team scooping the most taking home the title and the prize.  During the final Jill, who attended the recent qualifying round where the ‘blind’ excavator challenge was presented to the students, was on hand to present the £10,000 cheque to the winners.

“This year’s event and challenge was the hardest yet, with all the schools from the qualifying round being invited back to the final. It was interesting to see how – like true engineers – the students refined their models throughout the challenge to get the most out of them,” said Jill.

“There is a shortage of young people entering the engineering profession and the UK has fewer female engineers than anywhere else in Europe – so it was encouraging to see the diversity within the competing teams. I hope that, through our support, we’ve been able to help encourage students to consider a career in STEM as it can be very rewarding.”

The final, which was also attended by Blackpool Deputy Mayoress, Joan Goldin, was a tense affair with Highfield Leadership Academy from South Shore, Blackpool, doing enough to stay ahead of their nearest rivals Baines School, Hodgson Academy and St Mary’s School. As winners, the Highfield team all received individual trophies while each school received a commemorative frame and all students receiving a certificate.

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