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Royal Navy Engineering Challenge

Royal Navy Engineering Challenge 2019.  “Operation Downbird”

The team from GPUTC were down in Portsmouth this week to compete in the Royal Navy Engineering Challenge 2019.  After a slow drive down, the team arrived at their luxury accommodation on-board HMS Bristol for a pre-competition evening in 5* style (I may have made the last part up – those who have been on HMS Bristol will know…).

Next morning it was up Navy style, at 5:30am when all hands were piped awake by the Tannoy system. We transferred across to Gosport and HMS Sultan, the Navy’s base for Engineering where the completion was to be held and where we met the other 71 teams taking part.

Looking around there were some very “interesting” design solutions on display, from the very professional to the weird and wacky that this type of competition attracts – Arguably and at first sight the GPUTC fell into this latter category, as we had designed and built a model hovercraft to complete the task instead of the boat based solution favoured by the other 71 teams!  We were to prove otherwise during the competition.

Needless to say the GPUTC team entry attracted a lot of interest, and we were interviewed by the local TV Station (not sure which one sadly), British Forces TV and a succession of people wearing lots of gold braid on their uniform.  A highlight for the team was the interest shown by Lord Baker who actually visited us a couple of times during the morning and after asking the time of our next run, was then seen watching us as we performed.  After the run the team were also photographed with Lord Baker explaining to him the secret of their success…  We were also visited by Dr Hilary Leevers, the Chief Executive of EngineeringUK who was very complementary about both our team, hovercraft idea and its successful implementation.

During the heats everything worked perfectly and we recovered both the model helicopter and the shipping container and returned them to the dockside.  In reality I think we were all slightly surprised how well it all worked considering the limited amount of testing that we had undertaken!

In the Grand Final for overall champion, we were pitted against some of the apprentice teams, and yet again everything worked perfectly but we were pipped to the post by a stunningly fast team who were well deserved winners.

The final result was that the team from GPUTC placed 2nd overall, behind a team of RAF Apprentices – The margin of victory being only 10 seconds!  I’m sure you will agree this was a fantastic achievement by the students and should be celebrated.  We plan to be back at HMS Sultan for RNEC 20 with a fresh team hoping to go one better!


The GPUTC Team:

Tom McLaren

James Fenwick – Hovercraft driver

Angus Neal – RV driver.

Ethan James

Liam Bullard