Smart Machines & Factories
No hot air when it comes to children's learning
Published:  26 April, 2019

The British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) has named the 2018 recipient of the Primary Engineer Rogers Knight Award as Gary Kelleher, product support sales manager (GB) from Aylesford based BOMAG. The Award to Kelleher was in recognition of his contribution to furthering the engagement of primary pupils in STEM projects. Smart Machines & Factories reports.

Kelleher was instrumental in not only working with local school teachers to demonstrate how to introduce Primary Engineer to school pupils, he also brought the children’s designs to life by visiting the school during class time, to help them build concept vehicles which demonstrated the importance of planning, measuring, accuracy and design. His involvement had a direct impact on the number of pupils from the school entering the Primary Engineer Leaders Award – a competition, as previously reported in Smart Machines and Factories, in which children are asked “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”, and then submit ideas for new inventions solving an identifiable problem.

What started off as a company CSR project reaching out to the community on the suggestion of BOMAG GB Managing Director Alan Batty, soon became a mainstream interest for Kelleher, from Maidstone. He was nominated for the Primary Engineer Rogers Knight Award by teachers at Sandling Primary School in Kent and is no stranger to getting the best out of children - at weekends he manages a local football team.

He said: “I am delighted to have received this award, it was totally unexpected. I visited the school to help teachers and pupils to plan the designs of their shoebox vehicles, explaining the value of each element. The smiles on their faces were a picture when their vehicles flew down the ramp in a straight line.

“The vehicles for the older pupils involved building a wooden chassis and wiring up an electric motor to drive the car up a ramp. It required more patience, but you could see a great sense of achievement in each team when it all came together.

“In the Primary Engineer Kent finals both teams that represented Sandling did very well, winning several awards on the day for performance and design. I thought the program offered a great practical experience for the pupils and hopefully it will have inspired some of the them to explore engineering in the future”.

Vanda Jones, executive director of BCAS commented: “With the UK’s current shortfall of qualified engineers and an ageing, skilled workforce, we have been championing the Primary Engineer Programme for many years now. It gives pupils a fantastic opportunity to work with engineers and to enable teachers to embed engineering into their learning.

“It is through the passion and commitment of people like Gary that the industry is helping to encourage young people in to a future career in engineering and to plug our technology skills gap.

“We can’t think of a more deserving winner and our thanks and congratulations go to Gary and to all the children involved for their enthusiasm and fresh ideas.”

Chris Rochester, UK Director for Primary Engineer Programmes, creators of the awards added: “We created the Primary Engineer Rogers Knight Award to recognise annually one engineer who goes way beyond the call of duty. Gary’s commitment to the school supporting the teachers to become adept at delivering STEM projects to pupils makes him a deserving winner”.

The Primary Engineer Rogers Knight Award was inspired by an engineer who lived to the age of 99. Throughout his life, Rogers inspired everyone he met. He was a President of the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS), among many other achievements, and it is they who wanted to celebrate his inspirational life. The Primary Engineer Rogers Knight Award was established in 2015, with the first award presented in November 2016.

Pic caption: Chris Rochester, UK Director, Primary Engineer, Gary Kelleher, Product Support Sales Manager (GB), Bomag, Danielle Abley, Sandling Primary School, Jason Morgan, BCAS President

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