Teenagers from across Britain were asked to combat a terrorist threat in a masterclass in electronic engineering in a bid to encourage more of them to study the subject.
The event was part of a residential summer school at the University of Portsmouth run by educational charity The Smallpeice Trust.
About 70 pupils aged 14 and 15 used the University’s engineering laboratories to build software and plan and design building projects.
Engineering tutor Nick Savage said: “The course gives students a feel for what it would be like working as an electronic engineer.
“Because of the companies involved the course tends to take a security aspect and this year they were designing a buggy that would infiltrate a ship that terrorists were using to plan their operations. They were also given a code breaking task, a task to build a simulation of the ventilation shaft that the buggy would travel along and also build sensing equipment that can be used to identify buggies moving along ventilation shafts.
“We told them they need to think like terrorist in order to prevent counter-measures to surveillance that might be included on the ship.”
The pupils were also given talks from leading engineers at Qinetiq and GCHQ to help debunk the myths of the discipline and explain the many different career paths that electronics offers.
Barbara Haward, associate dean of the University’s technology faculty, said: “We’re delighted to be working with the Smallpeice Trust for another year. Courses like these are a fantastic opportunity for young people to try out some really interesting activities, while developing their existing skills.
“We hope some of these students will be inspired to study the subject at university, especially when they see the opportunities for travel and the high salaries that can be achieved through these career paths.
“The University of Portsmouth has always been keen to help raise aspirations of young people who hadn’t previously considered going to university and we have a very successful widening participation programme. Helping run this summer school allows us to reach a wide range of young people and helps demystify the university experience.”
Smallpeice Trust spokesperson Gemma Murphy said: “Thanks to the University of Portsmouth, these students will be given a worthwhile insight into electronic engineering and the career paths that could be open to them. Through a fun-filled timetable of inspirational presentations and design-and-make projects, students will be able to develop a greater understanding and enthusiasm for the subject.”
The Trust has worked with nearly 18,000 children in the UK in the past year. Its course timetable for 2013 will be launched in the autumn. Places are allocated on a first come, first served basis. To find out more, visit www.smallpeicetrust.org.uk.