The winners of the exciting new HackFest project Challenge Days, from South Devon UTC, Great Torrington School and Stoke Damerel Community College, were given the opportunity to attend Venturefest South West, a showcase of the most cutting edge innovation and entrepreneurship coming out of Devon, Cornwall and Somerset that took place at Sandy Park, Exeter.
Funded by Devon County Council, Heart of the South West LEP, Plymouth Culture and Plymouth City Council, HackFest saw partners from across Devon working together to provide students from all across the county the opportunity to bring innovation to life by designing and building prototypes of their very own products using the Fab Lab facilities.
Adrian Farmer, Team Leader Year 7 Learners’ Baccalaureate and Engineering teacher at Great Torrington School, said: “HackFest has been an amazing experience for our pupils, exposing them to new technologies and aspects of design thinking and innovation above and beyond what they experience in the classroom.
"It is a great opportunity to inspire the next generation of engineers and designers and get them hooked at a young age.”
A large group of students studying creative Extended Diploma courses at Plymouth College of Art took part, as well as students from the free school, The Red House.
Participating students gained a vital insight into disruptive technologies and skills to equip them for future careers, through a programme of hands-on, dynamic workshops focused on: Design Thinking; Electronics and Coding; Lean Startup models; 2D Design; 3D Design and Printing; and Laser Cutting.
Seeing this kind of digital innovation and forward thinking in the South West shows just how much our students can achieve when they’re encouraged to embrace design, creativity and new digital technologies like the equipment housed in our Fab Labs.— HackFest Project Team Leader, Oliver Raud
Paul Wigmore, Design and Technology teacher at West Exe School, said: “Our students had a fantastic time, mixing and learning with other schools. They particularly enjoyed working with the Fab Lab and the work with 3D printing, electronics, vinyl cutting and laser cutting.”
Dan Youlden, Science teacher at Stoke Damerel Community College said: “HackFest allowed our students to develop a range of new skills throughout a fantastic day that has created a real thirst for design and development of new concepts.”
HackFest not only provided a means of stimulating design and digital making among young people, mixing a range of skills from art, design, engineering, science and technology, but it will also bring a hugely valuable youth enterprise and entrepreneurship element to Venturefest South West, inspiring the next generation of innovators.
Following a series of preparatory workshops in Newton Abbot, Great Torrington, Plymouth and Exeter, students working in teams competed in a series of HackFest Challenge Days, competing to build the best product prototypes, in response to social issues of the future, through sustainable design and making.
Possibly the most exciting part for students was pitching their prototypes and ideas to investors, innovators and entrepreneurs, hungry to develop new talent and support tomorrow’s digital leaders.
HackFest Project Team Leader, Oliver Raud, from Plymouth College of Art, said: “We’re very pleased with the success that HackFest has met already and it has been an amazing experience watching students aged 13 to 19 coming together from across the county to learn digital skills that will help them to succeed in tomorrow’s workplace.
“Seeing this kind of digital innovation and forward thinking in the South West shows just how much our students can achieve when they’re encouraged to embrace design, creativity and new digital technologies like the equipment housed in our Fab Labs.”