A DALMUIR student team have celebrated winning a top award in a new initiative which challenges school pupils to build and control an underwater vehicle.

The team from Kilpatrick School in Dalmuir won the top honours of SUBS in Schools last month. They won the Portfolio award and were presented with a specially commissioned coin by the Royal Navy, certificates and £500 STEM equipment gift vouchers.

John Phee, from the Kilpatrick School team, said: “We learned new skills including understanding buoyancy, using new tools, producing technical drawings and teamwork.

“It’s been hard work to fit in working on the project with lessons, lockdown and social distancing and we’re very proud, not only to have completed the project but also win the award. It was great news when we heard this from our teacher.”

SUBS in Schools is a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education programme launched last year in 15 Scottish schools.

Students have the opportunity to learn about complex engineering systems while building a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). In the challenge, the vehicle is designed to complete a series of underwater tests including a speed challenge, object retrieval and an obstacle course.

Covid-19 severely impacted the scheduled live finals of the competition, with plans for students to showcase their vehicles in a pool falling victim to national restrictions. However, the hard work put in by the students building, testing and modifying their underwater vehicles, as well as producing portfolios of their work and developing a verbal presentation of their competition journey, was judged by an expert panel of engineers.

Andrew Denford, founder and chairman of Engineering in Motion, said: “All the schools put in tremendous effort and persevered with the project despite all that is happening.

“This was a pilot competition and although we weren’t able to judge all the elements of students’ work, we’ve seen from their enthusiasm and the interest shown by other schools, that there is scope for us to roll-out an expanded programme next year.

“Congratulations to all the students who competed and particularly for our winning team.”

Commander Dave Pinder, the Royal Navy’s STEM lead for Scotland, said: “We were incredibly impressed with all of the school teams that took part in SUBS in Schools and, in particular, Kilpatrick School.

“Our Royal Navy STEM representatives had the opportunity to spend time with some of the students last year and to review their work and give some pointers. Their enthusiasm and hard work was evident in their designs, presentations and portfolios.

“We hope that the competition has inspired the students to think about a future in a STEM-related field and that they build on the skills that they have gained during SUBS in Schools.”