More than 200 school pupils from schools around Fife and Dundee have taken part in Glenrothes firm Raytheon’s fifth annual Quadcopter Challenge, under the theme of ‘Technology around the World’.

Following a close fought contest at today’s regional finals, hosted by last year’s regional winners from Fife Auchmuty High School, Glenrothes High School was announced as the winner.  The winning team of Kian Laing, Aaron McCrae, Oliver Ross and Dylan Napier will now compete in the grand final at RAF Cosford Museum later this month.

Now in its fifth year, ten schools across Fife participated in the UK-wide contest, which saw them tasked with building a fully functioning, four-bladed, multi-rotor, remotely piloted air system — commonly known as a quadcopter.  Each region across the UK was assigned a different country around which to theme their quadcopters. Students in Glenrothes were tasked with technology from the USA.

Raytheon STEM ambassadors mentored the teams throughout the competition, visiting schools, hosting workshops and offering advice on how to improve aerodynamics and control of the quadcopters. 

Today’s aerial contest saw each team competing in a series of complex flying challenges designed to test the speed, agility and accuracy of their quadcopters. Team members also gave a 10-minute presentation to explain their USA-inspired design process, and how they managed their project.

The annual competition is open to schools around each of the company’s major UK sites (Broughton, Glenrothes, Waddington, Harlow, Manchester and Gloucester). Last year’s event drew more than 700 students, with six teams advancing to the national competition.

This year’s participating schools from Scotland included Auchmuty High School, Balwearie High School, Beath High School, Glenrothes High School, Glenwood High School, Kirkcaldy High School, Levenmouth Academy, Lochgelly High School, Woodmill High School, and St Andrew’s High School.

The Quadcopter Challenge is part of Raytheon’s ongoing efforts to spark student interest in science, technology, engineering and maths. Other Raytheon UK STEM initiatives include the RAF Engineering Competition, school career workshops and bursaries.

Fife Council’s lead officer for enterprise and business development, Pamela Stevenson, said: “STEM skills are of huge importance to the future prosperity of Fife. The partnership with Raytheon on the Quadcopter Challenge catches students’ imagination and opens their eyes to the possibilities of a career in STEM in a unique way.

“It has been fantastic to see the Quadcopter Challenge go from strength to strength over the past few years and become embedded in the Culture of Enterprise programme.  We are looking forward to cheering on our regional winner at the UK finals.”

Raytheon’s Glenrothes’ STEM lead, Stephan Fortune, added: “I’m really proud of how this contest has grown and supported more than 500 pupils across Fife since it started. Unlike many other industry STEM initiatives, the Quadcopter Challenge gives young people an insight into ‘hands-on’ STEM skills. The physical act of building and creating is essential to the learning experience together with presenting their ideas to a panel of judges. 

“At Raytheon, we are firm believers in the potential of events like these to inspire the next generation of STEM leaders. By driving interest in STEM careers from an early age, we can help to fill Scotland’s skills gap and drive economic growth for our local, regional and national economies.”