Meet the innovators: QE pupils excel in technology competitions

Meet the innovators: QE pupils excel in technology competitions

No fewer than nine teams took part in the robotics world finals as the Technology department recorded achievement after achievement in a Summer Term to remember.

Building on QE’s strong international reputation in robotics established over the past five years, four senior and five junior teams qualified for the global VEX finals, which are usually held in the US but this year were run online because of the pandemic. Teams also took the opportunity to compete in offline, in-person events locally, including one hosted by QE.

In addition to the VEX robotics triumphs, the term was punctuated by regular news of successes in national Technology-related competitions.

Head of Technology Michael Noonan said: “I commend all our boys on the way they have maintained their enthusiasm during some difficult few months and on their commitment to getting involved in competitions and activities outside of lessons. That commitment has been richly rewarded.”

The four senior robotics teams all went through to the divisional knockout stages in the VEX World Championships and one of them – Hyperdrive – won an Amaze award for their division. “All four teams – Hybrid, Hyperdrive, Override and Tempest – were very unlucky to lose out to eventual champions and division finalists,” said Mr Noonan.

The same four teams took part in an VEX EDR Showcase hosted by Merchant Taylors’ School, which attracted teams from as far afield as Coventry and Stevenage. Hybrid, Hyperdrive and Override took the event’s Division 1 Design, Innovate and Think awards respectively. Tempest and Hyperdrive reached the overall final, narrowly losing to the eventual champions. In the skills category, the four QE teams took second, third, fourth and fifth places.

For the younger boys, the five qualifying VEX IQ teams (Gearsquad, TechFusion, Superdrive, Overdrive and Cyberstorm) relished competing with teams from across the world at their international finals, said Mr Noonan.

At a VEX IQ Showcase held at QE, Gearsquad not only won the Teamwork award – jointly with GCA Gearers, a team from Greig City Academy in Haringey – but also took the Excellence award, as a result of which they have already qualified for next year’s world championships.

In addition to the Lord Mayor of London’s prize won recently by 2021 leaver Ukendar Vadivel for his 3D printing work to produce face shields for the NHS during last year’s lockdown, Nirmay Jadhav, of Year 13, also drew plaudits for his innovative effort to improve 3D printing itself. Nirmay was national runner-up in the Manufacturing Technologies Association’s Technology, Design and Innovation Challenge, with his design for a dehydration chamber to combat excess moisture in 3D printing, one of the common problems with this popular modern technology. The School is using the £750 he won to upgrade its CAD/CAM equipment.

Devia Karia, of then of Year 13, pictured above, was one of ten finalists in the prestigious Triumph Design Awards with his Airtime device. “He was very unfortunate not to win with his fantastic solution to air cleanliness in the pandemic,” said Mr Noonan.

The pairing of Dhruv Syam and Ashwin Sridhar (now Year 12) – Team Salutem Validus – reached the final of the Amazon Longitude Prize Explorer competition with DevSalutem, their AI-powered wellbeing assistant with a companion app.

The competition challenged young people aged 11–16 to design, develop and build ‘tech for good’ prototypes to solve the big challenges of our time. Dhruv and Ashwin’s entry, DevSalutem, aims to enhance users’ mental and physical health by detecting symptoms, monitoring movement, providing suggested workouts or other activities, and supplying specifically tailored feedback.

Eight boys are participating in the international COVID-19 Engineering Design Challenge and are due to feature in the autumn edition of the Design & Technology Association’s magazine.