Technology Excellence Centre
The school became a Specialist Technology School in 2005. The funds that came with this status were used to build the Technology Excellence Centre, a resource to facilitate high quality learning opportunities in Design and Technology. The purpose of the Centre is to promote engineering to students and parents; to enable students to experience some of the current industrial engineering technologies and to get a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities provided by careers in engineering. Also it serves to make them more aware of how engineering contributes both to the economy and their daily lives.
The Centre is equipped with CAD and CAM equipment (computer aided design and manufacture) that enhances the curriculum for students at Thorpe. However the Centre is intended for a wider range of use and to serve the local community as a whole. As a result, the Centre is available to other schools, both primary and secondary; to post 16 institutions; to training institutions; to local businesses and the local community.
We believe strongly that one of the best ways to promote engineering opportunities is for students to find out about careers from the people working in the sector at all levels both in school and through the many trips and visits organised through the Technology Excellence Centre.
Design and Technology is important to the school. We regularly run events and presentations to inspire students and provide them with hands on experience of working with engineering and technology. Here are just a few examples of recent events.
Inspiring Young Minds Towards a Career in Aerospace, Defence & Security
Seven lucky TSAS students were among the 3,000 young people attending this event as part of the Farnborough International Airshow. Futures Day is an initiative designed to encourage young people to consider careers within the aerospace, defence and security industries. The students set out at five in the morning accompanied by Technology Excellence Centre Manager, Kevin Cowan. The day out was a reward for their work in Design and Technology and travel and entrance costs were sponsored by C-MAC Micro Technology, (based in Gt Yarmouth).
Supported by Airbus and the South West RDA, Futures Day was opened by TV’s Angellica Bell and Michael Underwood who introduced the day’s proceedings of interactive workshops, discussions and practical applications of aerospace, defence and security in action. Airbus ran a number of sessions for the young people, looking at topics such as biomimicry where designers and engineers look to nature’s best ideas to inspire aircraft design, and focus groups to explore young people’s thoughts about aviation over the coming decades.
Throughout the afternoon and in the great tradition of Farnborough, all were treated to a full flying display featuring the best of modern and historic planes. Everyone’s favourites the Red Arrows closed the afternoon spectacle with a breathtaking display of aero aerobics.
Football and Robots on the ‘program’
Weaving up the midfield, ball firmly under control, he shoots, the keeper rolls to the left and it’s a goal! Football at Thorpe St Andrew High School but not out on the pitch or even on the ‘astro’ but in the Technology Excellence Centre. The high tech hub of STEM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) hosted footie playing robots for two Saturdays of fun for year 6 students about to come up to the high school this September.
Before setting their robot off on the marked course the students had to learn to write commands in computing language, download these from the laptops to their robots and fine-tune the directions to achieve a precise line down the ‘pitch’. They were inspired and guided in this by Kevin Cowan and Joe Bennet, manager and technician from the Excellence Centre, with the expert help of a couple of Computer Science graduates from the UEA. Kevin commented: “We bought these Lego Mindstorm robots last year after running a similar event. They are endlessly configurable. For last year’s event they were set up as space exploration vehicles and we have been using them in an after-school club too. This year I asked Joe to build them up to be able to hold a ball and shoot it at a goal (defended by a robot goalkeeper) so we could join in with World Cup fever!”
As parents arrived to collect the young programmers at the end of a fun-packed day they were impressed by the teamwork and determination demonstrated by the students, new friendships formed and the buzz of excitement and enjoyment – a great foundation for the big move to high school and the start of a whole new stage in learning.
Energise Your Future Norwich 2010
Energise Your Future Norwich 2010 is the region’s largest energy engineering convention.
TSAS students have regularly attended this day of information and activities and this year Technology Excellence Centre Manager, Kevin Cowan, gave students from Year 12 and 13 their chance to attend. Students were given the opportunity to get hands-on experience of the exciting and diverse sectors that make up the energy and engineering industries. Our region offers many employment opportunities at all levels for keen and qualified young people and ‘Energise Your Future’ is an important showcase and potential inspiration for our engineers and scientists of tomorrow.
The event was hosted at the Hethel Engineering Centre and sponsored by OPITO – the Oil and Gas Academy.