Students design radioactive materials handling device

A team of teenagers from Wolverhampton Grammar School have been working with Ansaldo Nuclear, engineering specialists in the Nuclear industry on an innovative project to improve the handling of radioactive materials

Sachin Basra, Edward Bill, Robbie Crncan and Amardeep Dhami are all Year 12 students taking part in the Engineering Education Scheme (EES), a six-month extra-curricular programme designed to give young people insights into engineering careers. The results of their work were displayed and judged at an event at Cranmore Park Solihull in May, together with the work of 70 teams from schools across the Midlands, who have been working on different projects with a wide variety of companies.

Under the guidance of mentors from Ansaldo, the Wolverhampton team worked to a brief which required them to design a ‘handling grab’ to enable the effective handling of different shapes of waste, while also considering the suitability of the materials used, the manufacturability of the resulting design and the safety of the remote process.

The team considered three different design concepts, looking at alternative materials and mechanisms, and they conducted experiments to assess the reliability of each design for differently shaped weights. Having decided on the preferred design, the team considered that steel would provide the ideal material for manufacture due to its high durability and resistance to radiation. The grabber would be mechanical rather than having electronics, as ionizing radiation breaks down the materials within the electrical equipment. Therefore, gears and other mechanisms would be used in the manoeuvrability of the grabber.

Sachin Basra said, “EES has showed and taught me how problems are solved in the engineering world, I have developed team building skills the importance of working with others, which will help me in future in university and when I get a job. This experience has also showed me how to properly produce a report, helping me convey my work in a professional manor. I have also experienced the sort of tasks engineers face and the work I may experience if I pursue a career in engineering.”

Simon O’Malley Head of Design and Technology at Wolverhampton Grammar School added “The Engineering Education Scheme provides aspiring engineers within our Lower Sixth a fantastic opportunity to gain real world industrial experience through a live working brief. As well as developing their engineering ability this helps them to develop their interpersonal skills and gain valuable knowledge of project management. This would not be possible without the continued support and mentoring received from the Ansaldo engineers who have made a real difference to our students.”

Students can study Design & Technology from Year 7 at Wolverhampton Grammar School. It’s a popular subject at School and many students go on to study DT at GCSE and A Level, securing both degree courses and apprenticeships.