Economy and Transport Minister Ken Skates visited the new “Drone Zone” at Wrexham Glyndwr University today to meet engineering students taking part in an international drone competition in north Wales next weekend.
Hundreds of young engineers from around the world will be competing in the UAS Challenge, which is organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and backed by the Welsh Government.
This is the first time a team from Wrexham Glyndwr, the only Welsh university in the event this year, has taken part in the competition which takes place from 16 to 18 June.
Economy and Transport Minister, Ken Skates said: “It’s been a pleasure to meet the Glyndwr University team and I wish them all the very best as they represent Wales in this year’s Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Challenge.
“I am particularly pleased the event is taking place at the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre which provides an excellent platform to showcase the world class facilities at Llanbedr and the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone as a whole. The competition brings leading-edge drone technology to North Wales which will raise the area’s aerospace profile internationally and help develop the regional skills base.
“The Llanbedr site offers the perfect environment for the further development of unmanned systems and emerging technologies and events like this can only stimulate further interest in the site. I am also very pleased pupils from local schools will be attending and I hope they will be inspired by what they see and learn.”
This year the event has attracted a record 32 teams comprising students from as far afield as Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Canada, along with first timers from Denmark and the Netherlands.
Wrexham Glyndwr’s entry follows the launch last year of the “Drone Zone” as part of the engineering faculty’s strategy to focus on developing autonomous vehicle and artificial intelligence technologies.
Professor Claire Taylor, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Wrexham Glyndwr University said: “We’re thrilled to be representing Wales in the competition and show-casing some of the exceptional talent of Wrexham Glyndwr University students. We’re very proud of our MSc in Unmanned Aircraft System Technology, which is designed to address a skills shortage in drone technology and meet the growing demand for the commercial application of drones.”
A key part of the competition is an educational STEM outreach programme for schoolchildren, backed by Gwynedd Council with an aspiration to inspire the next generation with the breadth of career options in front of them.
“We are delighted to see children from local schools coming to the competition. Showing young people how creative and exciting engineering can be is a key way of inspiring the engineers of tomorrow,” said Dr Colin Brown, CEO of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
Other supporters of the challenge include leading aerospace companies GKN Aerospace, Bombardier Aerospace and Raytheon Systems.
Founded in 2008, Wrexham Glyndwr University is a young, bold and vibrant university based in north-east Wales. The university has two campuses in Wrexham, Plas Coch and Regent Street plus campuses in Northop and St Asaph. In 2017 the university was awarded the silver award in the Teaching Excellence Framework for the quality of teaching.
The university is driving academic excellence through a wide range of innovative and industry-relevant courses, such as Applied Science, Computing, Engineering, Creative Arts, Criminology and Psychology. Wrexham Glyndwr is now a Top 100 University, rising 24 places in the Guardian league tables – one of the top 10 risers in the UK. The Campus 2025 strategy encompasses plans for new student accommodation, car parking and upgraded facilities in the next eight years.