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On Tuesday 24th April 2012 in The Braid Centre, Ballymena, three Academy pupils attended the Sentinus Team R&D Celebration Day.  There they gave formal presentations of their work, and were awarded participation certificates by Alderman R. J. Cherry M.B.E., the Deputy Mayor of Ballymena.

The Team R&D Scheme links able pupils with industrialists and universities.  It aims to expose pupils to “real world” industrial problems.  It requires of them the same tenacity, organisational skills and inventiveness that successful engineers employ.

Matthew Bowers, James Duffy and Pearse McAteer were teamed with Ballylumford Power Station, which is now owned by AES, and UUJ.  William Hill, an engineer at the power station, provided the boys with a problem that AES were experiencing with the design of their generators.  The team’s task was to find a cost effective solution to this real industrial problem.

The problem involved the high pressure and high temperature steam section of the plant, and the health and safety implications of maintenance and repair work.  AES’s procedural imperative demanded that nothing less than a visual inspection of the water draining out of this high pressure system was sufficient before any work was allowed to take place.  An accident with steam at the pressures and temperatures involved is potentially fatal.  Another aspect of this problem was that a number of high pressure steam systems drain through one outlet.  The implication of this is that the whole system must be shut down even if only one part of it is being repaired.  The team produced a number of possible solutions to these problems and provided cost benefit analyses for each.  They chose one of their solutions and provided the technicians in UUJ with CAD drawings. The technicians at UUJ constructed a prototype inspection chamber using their high pressure water jet cutter.  The pupils also produced a model to show how the pipe work in the plant could be re-routed, and also produced a cost benefit analysis for this aspect of their problem.

Their solutions were initially presented to William Hill, who commented favourably on their ideas.  The pupils also produced a formal report which was submitted for assessment by a team of industrialists and academics.

At the Braid Centre, on the Celebration Day, they were required to give a formal presentation of their ideas to the team of experts, where they faced in-depth questioning.  By this means, the students’ work was evaluated for CREST Awards at the same time as the Team R&D Assessment.  CREST Award certificates will be sent to successful teams as soon as possible after Celebration Day, together with a summary of assessors’ comments.

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