A New Challenge

Raytheon UK sponsors RAF Engineering Competition

Nothing motivates an engineer quite like finding a solution to a complex problem. That is precisely the intent of the annual Royal Air Force Engineering Competition. Raytheon UK was the main sponsor for this year’s event in partnership with the RAF and their centennial celebration.

The competition began late last year and offers youth teams and RAF Regular and Reserve service personnel the opportunity to present new ideas to benefit the force over the next 100 years. The goal is to encourage the next generation to strive toward careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Raytheon UK’s Martin Johnson mentored one of the three company-led teams in the competition. Johnson is head of training and responsible for delivering the Sentinel R1 Air Operations and Technical Training and ISR Wing Analyst Training Service to the U.K. Ministry of Defence.

“Witnessing the motivation and enthusiasm of the team has been a highlight for me,“ Johnson said.  “I’m gaining insights from the cadets and their ambitions. I think with the right support, they can grow to meet their expectations and realize their potential.”

Teams were tasked with designing an engineering solution for the RAF relating to air and space activities. Of the 50 initial entries, 26 teams were selected to advance to the final competition, which took place on Sept. 22 during the Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show.

Richard Daniel, Raytheon UK chief executive and Dr. Alex Rose-Parfitt, Raytheon UK engineering director and STEM program lead, judged entries along with other defence industry leaders and RAF representatives.

Air Training Core squadrons 1378 (Mold) and 1918 (Ruthin) took top honors for their two degrees-of-freedom virtual reality flight simulator that can link multiple simulators over a secure network, simulate air traffic control and recognize voice communications. Raytheon awarded the team a virtual reality simulator for their efforts and imagination.

A cadet from Johnson's team was recognized for demonstrating enthusiasm and knowledge during the final competition. His group designed a mission simulator.

“We wanted to connect all the other squadrons together,“ said air cadet Matt Craig. “With this simulator, we are able to do missions as one big core of cadets.“

RAF Air Cadets

RAF Air Cadets train with their simulator in preparation for the final competition.

The cadets worked on hardware and software integration, and learned mechanical construction and electrical installation along with other skills to bring their simulator to life.

Another Raytheon-mentored team received an honorable mention for its plan to help reduce carbon dioxide emission in military, civilian and general aviation.

The ultimate prize may have eluded Johnson and his team, but he knows all the hard work was worthwhile for his cadets and everyone involved in this year's competition.