On 23rd January 2014 invited guests attended an awards ceremony in Manchester, to see the winner of BAE Systems’ Intern Challenge announced.
Six teams of apprentices from across BAE Systems attended and presented some new and unique technologies to briefs set by Help for Heroes and The Royal British Legion to help wounded servicemen and women in their sporting recovery. The brief set to the apprentices was to produce either a brand new hand-bike for disabled athletes or a device to support the posture of disabled sailors.
All teams submitted innovative and exciting products but ultimately it was Team Warton that emerged as the winners.
The team of apprentices, based at BAE Systems’ Military Aircraft business in Warton, set out to answer a brief set by Help for Heroes – who challenged the apprentices to improve the safety and usability of hand-bikes. First, the team used Facebook to establish the most frequent user complaints about hand-bikes, before engineering a new anti-twist Gyro mechanism which houses the brake cables and stops them from twisting and breaking.
Extensive testing showed the brake cables to be unbreakable with the new Gyro, even after 500 miles – whereas normal cables usually break around 90 miles. The team also designed a new rotating handle, allowing users to reposition their hands and avoid muscle fatigue on longer rides. Both products use innovative 3D printing techniques in their construction. In future, the team hope to use the Company’s partnership with UK Sport to test the products at Manchester Velodrome.
Team Warton's leader Alex Griffiths said: “We picked the hand-bike challenge as we felt we knew more about bikes than boats! It’s been so rewarding to take part in the Apprentice Innovation Challenge. Applying our expertise to a totally different aspect of engineering to what we normally work on has built the confidence of the entire team and we feel passionate about the finished products we have engineered.”
Jonpaul Nevin, for Help for Heroes, said: "the innovations produced by the Warton Team could greatly improve the safety and reliability of hand-bikes. We’d like to say a huge thank you to BAE Systems and all the apprentices for their incredible effort and hard work, and are excited by the prospect of further testing."
Those that attended the awards ceremony were able to see the devices in action and speak with representatives from BAE Systems, Help for Heroes and The Royal British Legion.