The UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Challenge is an international student drone design competition organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
This year the event is attracting a record 32 teams comprising hundreds of young engineers from as far afield as Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Canada, along with first timers from Denmark and the Netherlands.
The Challenge is staged over three days in the spectacular Snowdonia Aerospace Centre at Llanbedr, part of the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone, and has been building popularity over the past five years.
Colin Brown, Chief Executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said:
“We are delighted the Welsh Government has taken this opportunity to support the competition. The Challenge brings leading-edge drone technology to north Wales, which will raise the area’s aerospace profile internationally and help develop the regional skills base.”
The event benefits from the excellent facilities and infrastructure at the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre, itself a well-known drone-testing site which creates a supportive environment for developing this cutting-edge technology, and which has the opportunity to form alliances with academic and industry partners taking part.
The Challenge gives undergraduates an insight into the role of aerospace engineering on real-world projects, such as simulating a humanitarian aid drop, and requires a great deal of innovation from the students.
Ken Skates, the Minister for Economy and Transport said: “Welsh Government is pleased to be sponsoring this year’s UAS Challenge. This is an exciting sector with a growing presence in an ever-changing world, and such high-profile events are a fantastic opportunity to showcase the world class test and evaluation facilities we have here in Wales.
“Snowdonia Enterprise Zone’s Llanbedr site is a prime example of that, offering the perfect environment for the further development of unmanned systems and emerging technologies, and I look forward to us welcoming university teams there from across the world in June.”
A key part of the competition is an educational STEM outreach programme for schoolchildren, backed by Gwynedd Council with an aspiration to inspire the next generation with the breadth of career options in front of them. Local students will attend a dedicated STEM day and take part in activities to encourage their interest in engineering and aerospace in a fun and practical way.
Councillor Ioan Thomas, who leads on Economic Development for Gwynedd Council said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring STEM activities for local school pupils once again at this year’s IMecheE UAS Challenge. At last year’s event, young people were able to take part in engineering activities, and speak to engineering teams from universities across the world – we hope this year’s STEM activities will build on that success, and hope to include provision for primary-aged children.”
Other sponsors of the competition include leading aerospace companies GKN Aerospace, Bombardier, Leonardo and Raytheon Systems.
Snowdonia Aerospace Centre was recently used as the venue for testing by a 1982 Formula 1 McLaren ahead of the this year’s FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship.