UWC Atlantic College teams up with Rolls-Royce

UWC Atlantic College students work with Rolls-Royce on new technologies to save lives at sea

A group of students have been working with Rolls-Royce engineers to lay the foundations for a collaborative project which aims to design and develop new technologies that could save lives at sea.

Seven students at UWC Atlantic College in South Wales have been developing their ideas for new marine technologies, such as scouting drones, which could aid the search and rescue process at sea, alongside three of Rolls-Royce’s most experienced marine specialists.  

The ideas were born from the students’ personal experiences of working on the rigid hull inflatable boat (RIB) – the world’s most widely used craft for inshore rescue, developed in the 1960s by Rear-Admiral Desmond Hoare, the college’s founding principal, and tested by college students. The project team felt driven to come up with new solutions to aid the process, utilising their knowledge of drone (an unmanned aerial vehicle) technology and artificial intelligence, after experiencing first-hand the difficulties of searching for and rescuing persons in trouble at sea during their college service and lifeguarding training programme.

UWC Atlantic College’s collaboration with Rolls-Royce is part of its commitment to forging relationships between education and industry, as the college plans to develop a new 21st-century diploma pathway in collaboration with the International Baccalaureate. Impressed by the students’ ideas and enthusiasm, Rolls-Royce assigned a team of marine engineering specialists to collaborate with the students and help transform their ideas into reality.

Simon O’Connor, a marine engineer in Rolls-Royce’s naval business, Bernard Twomey, regulatory development lead (marine), and Don Murray, senior vice-president (manufacturing), travelled to St Donat’s Castle in south Wales, to work with some of the students to develop systematic approaches to solving problems faced by search and rescue teams at sea.  Each year, our 360 students from more than 90 different countries spend ’Project Week’ participating in co-curricular and experiential activities as part of their UWC education programme.

Erol Balkovic, 18, from Bosnia and Herzegovina, a second-year student involved with the project, said, “In our first year at UWC Atlantic College, we had the opportunity to experience real search and rescue missions aboard the RIB. It can be incredibly hard to find what, or who, you are looking for in those conditions. One of our ideas revolves around the idea that technology can essentially become the eyes and ears of a search and rescue team, pinpointing the location of a person or boat in trouble and making the entire process more efficient.  This could help save lives otherwise lost at sea. This mentoring opportunity with Rolls-Royce allowed us to develop our ideas. It was an eye-opening session for us, and we cannot wait for the next one.”

The day included discussion around topics such as automation and physics. The group also considered the materials and manufacturing processes that could be utilised when turning their ideas into physical products.

Commenting on the project, Peter T Howe, Principal of UWC Atlantic College, added, “From the development of the RIB all those years ago, to the potentially groundbreaking ideas coming from the students on this project, UWC Atlantic College has a rich history of contributing to lifesaving at sea. These students have been passionately involved in co-curricular activities such as the lifeguarding course we run alongside the RNLI – our students can be found safeguarding nine beaches across Wales in the summer – and it’s great to see them taking those experiences to the next level.” 

For more, visit: atlanticcollege.org

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