Six A level Physics students have been working with local IT company ARM to design a drone with a radio-frequency identification (RFID) system. The six-month project was set up by the Engineering Education Scheme, which links Year 12 students with team sponsors (in this case, ARM). Students Natalia Adamson, Alex Bevan and John Newberry, report:
“We started off with a briefing at the University of Hertfordshire,” explains Natalia. “The aim was to devise something related to the work of our sponsor, ARM. We came up with the idea of a drone with a ‘reader’, similar to the ones found in ID cards.”
“The idea was to program a microprocessor with a set of instructions to enable it to scan cards. This ‘brain’ is then installed in the drone,” adds Alex.
“This ‘brain’ can then look for cards in any item which has one installed. It will obtain the GPS co-ordinates and report back,” says Natalia. “It would be very useful for locating items in a warehouse – or for finding a lost pet!”
“We sourced a drone,” explains John, “and are now building the components. We were able to use the University of Hertfordshire workshop facilities and then finish our work at Long Road. A member of ARM comes to see us every week to help us with the project.”
“I’ve been able to work on this using Design Technology equipment,” says Natalia, “so it has all worked very well. We’ll be going back to the University of Hertfordshire in March for a celebration day / science fair. We’ll be able to demonstrate that our ‘brain’ works.”
“We’d like to try flying the drone in the grounds of the College,” adds John.
“At the celebration day, we’ll receive a Crest Award from the British Science Association,” says Alex. “It’s a little bit like a Duke of Edinburgh Award, but specifically for scientists. We’ll need to write a report on our project to qualify for this. We can also use our EES project for an Extended Project Qualification.”
The EES scheme is designed to inspire young people to go into engineering or another STEM profession. The three students talked about their plans for the future:
Natalia – previous school Parkside and studying Physics, Maths, Further Maths and Design Technology: “The EES scheme has given me a chance to take part in a real-life engineering project, and I’m going to study Engineering at university.”
John – previous school Bassingbourn Village College and studying Electronic Engineering, Computing, Maths and Physics: “I am planning to study Computer Programming at university, so this has been very helpful.”
Alex – previous school Linton Village College and studying Physics, Maths, History and Music. “I will study Engineering at university – if I don’t become a rock star!”
The other three students on the scheme are Gleb Koshko, Harold Robinson and Benjamin Hoyer.
Top:Long Road students Gleb Koshko, Natalia Adamson, Benjamin Hoyer and Alex Bevan with Paul and Ash (from ARM)
Second: John Newberry
Third: Benjamin Hoyer and Gleb Koshko
Bottom: the view from the drone
Find out more about the EES