A group of students stand around a small track, watching a radio controlled vehicle complete the course.

UTC South Durham hosted the Regional Finals of the Landrover 4x4 in Schools Challenge on Friday 7th February. The annual competition sees teams of students from across the region competing for a range of prizes, including the opportunity to go through to the National Finals.

From September 2019 onwards, students were required to work in teams of up to six people to develop and modify a small radio-controlled vehicle. There are three different entry classes: Entry, Development, and Professional. Two teams from UTC South Durham took part: students from Year 10 competed in the Development class, and students from Year 11 in the Professional class.

UTC's engineering hall was transformed into an exhibition space featuring miniature display showrooms designed by the teams, and two tracks set-up by the Land Rover Challenge. The tracks were designed to test the vehicles' ability to tackle difficult terrain, and the teams' control of the vehicle.

The teams from UTC performed well: the Year 10 Development team won the ACES Challenge Award for cars of the future, and the Year 11 Professional entry team won awards for Sponsorship and Marketing, Team Showroom, and the Portfolio Award for the best portfolio two years running.

The event was judged by individuals from North-East based businesses and organisations, including STEM Ambassador Tony Swanwick.

Tony said: ‘Having observed many STEM events hosted by different companies I feel that the Land Rover 4x4 competition is one of the best in its class. In a very practical way it forges together valuable learning experiences in the form of a design challenge, competition, teamwork manufacturing skills, product testing and verbal communication.

Acting as a STEM Ambassador to support UTC students with this challenge, and seeing the enthusiasm and energy they have for it, is rewarding in itself. Being a judge at the event not only helps to make it a success, but also allowed me to see how many of the students from schools across the area work together so enthusiastically on the day. The award ceremony at the end of the competition truly recognises and celebrates their efforts and achievement.’