The Quad Squad

The Raytheon UK Quadcopter Challenge tests budding engineers

There will be some high flying all year long.

Raytheon UK launched its annual Quadcopter Challenge, a contest in which students build and skillfully fly drones of their own design, at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow in July. The rest of the year will feature regional heats, leading up to a national competition in December. Entrants will be rated on the innovation, speed, agility and accuracy of their flying machines.

The fourth annual competition is open to schools around each of the company's major UK sites (Broughton, Glenrothes, Waddington, Harlow, Manchester and Gloucester). Last year's event drew more than 250 students, with six teams advancing to the national competition.

Competitors will build a fully functioning, four-bladed, multi-rotor, remotely piloted air system -- commonly known as a quadcopter. Pilots in each team will navigate the quadcopter through a course with obstacles along the way. Team members will also give a 10-minute presentation to explain their design process and how they managed their project.

Raytheon is involved as part of the company's broader commitment to spark student interest in science, technology, engineering and math, collectively known as STEM; all designed to help nurture the next generation of engineers and scientists.

“Today’s young people are the innovators and engineers of tomorrow,” said Alex Rose-Parfitt, engineering director and STEM program lead at Raytheon UK.  “Our Quadcopter Challenge encourages them to design, build and fly their own creations, with the goal of inspiring students to choose STEM careers.”

Raytheon STEM ambassadors mentor teams throughout the design and build process, offering advice on aerodynamics, autonomy, programme management, microelectromechanical systems, control systems and battery technology. The hands-on instruction occurs during after-school clubs and prepares student teams to compete against other young people from across the country.

Last year’s competition winners from Branston Community Academy demonstrated their flying expertise to this year’s airshow crowds.

“As we celebrate the Year of Engineering, this is a chance to show how innovation is opening doors to exciting careers that will shape the country’s future," said U.K. Minister for Transport Baroness Sugg CBE, who attended the airshow.

The Year of Engineering is a government campaign that celebrates the world of engineering and is designed to boost engineering across the U.K.

inspecting the 2017 winning team’s quadcopter during the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow

U.K. Minister for Transport Baroness Sugg CBE inspects the 2017 winning team’s quadcopter during the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow.