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Students find a new solution for Motability

Sixth form students, Cyrus Yow, Catriona Black, Louise Kimpton, Michael Warner Smith and Elissa Davies, have received Gold Crest Awards after taking part in an Engineering Education Scheme, supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering. Harlow-based Motability sponsored the school, for a third year, with funding from its Tenth Anniversary Trust.

Motability is the UK’s leading car scheme for disabled people and its Technical Development Specialist, Harj Sahota, mentored five students throughout the six month project. During that time he visited them weekly to monitor progress and offer help and advice.

"The project required us to set a real engineering problem," says Harj. "In this case, we concentrated on the range of Motability cars designed to carry wheelchair users as drivers or passengers. The students were set the task of looking at ways to provide car conversion specialists with measurements of people in their wheelchairs, so that vehicles can be converted quicker and more accurately. It’s essential that our customers can get in and out of their cars easily if they are in a wheelchair and travel in safety and comfort."

During the project, students had the opportunity to visit conversion specialists, Steering Developments Ltd, in Hemel Hempstead. They also attended a three-day residential workshop at the University of Hertfordshire, where they were able to build and test their design. They presented their final solution to four assessors and other teams from the south east region who had taken up various engineering challenges. They were judged on their project management, team work, chosen solution, technical knowledge and presentation and reporting skills.

"The team I mentored worked hard and the Gold Crest award they received is the highest level available and well deserved," comments Harj. "I am delighted with the outcome; our technical team will be able to build on the students’ work and put their idea into practice."