4 Jul 2017

Project Blyth: Where art meets innovation

Leader of Hull City Council Stephen Brady explains why art and engineering can go hand in hand during 2017.

Creative minds and free thinkers. They have their place in arts and culture; they are our writers, artists, performers and music makers.

But these creative minds are also required in business and industry. From engineering to marketing, we need forward-thinkers, problem-solvers and those with great vision. We need them to create new products, find solutions and manufacture new, efficient ways of working.

Project Blyth involves teamwork, thinking outside the box, following technical instructions and using drive in order to build an electric kit car.

Ensuring we have this creative talent working in our city is a large part of the role of Green Port Hull. With renewable energy set to provide jobs and opportunities for years to come, we need to make sure we have the talented people to fill these roles.

That’s why we at Hull City Council are supporting Project Blyth – a Humber-wide education project designed to inspire and foster innovation amongst young people. It involves teamwork, thinking outside the box, following technical instructions and using drive in order to build an electric kit car.

Over 30 teams at schools, colleges and community groups are taking part and will go head-to-head in a spectacular race, which will take place on Sunday 16th July at the KCOM Stadium in Hull’s leafy West Park. It will be the first race of its kind in the city.

The project helps young people build other business skills that will stand them in good stead for a wide variety of careers.

Although it’s an obvious choice for budding engineers, Project Blyth also helps young people build other business skills that will stand them in good stead for a wide variety of careers, along with confidence and team spirit. For example, a team of entrepreneurs from Hull are honing their enterprise skills thanks to Project Blyth.

Team 13 is a group of six young people involved with Charles Cracknell’s Making Changes For Careers (MC4C) youth enterprise programme. All budding entrepreneurs with businesses, they signed up to Project Blyth to enhance their ‘Big 13’ enterprise skills, covering teamwork, effective communication, creativity and innovation, leadership, problem solving and product design, to name just a few.

Jade Smithson, 23, from east Hull, joined Team 13 to boost her CV. She runs her own business, Jade Smithson Designs, making bags and cushions out of sports shirts.

“For Team 13, it’s not so much about the STEM and engineering element – it’s about us building our skills in other areas, which we can apply to our businesses in the future,” said Jade.

“It’s been good to try something new too. Being a seamstress, I’m hands-on with fabrics, so I’ve been able to transfer my abilities to a car, which has been a new challenge. I’ll also be driving the car at the race in summer, which is exciting.”

Team 13 has held fundraising events, devised sponsorship packages and gained support from local companies to develop its IET Formula 24+ electric car, which has been supplied by charity Greenpower Education Trust, which runs the project.

The team also received £2,000 towards the cost of the car from Green Port Hull, which is supported by the Regional Growth Fund. It has provided the same funding for all 10 of Project Blyth’s Formula 24+ cars.

Since its launch, Project Blyth has engaged with more than 2,000 young people.

Sixty major employers within the region are on board too, including Hull 2017 partners Siemens Gamesa and Northern Gas Networks, which has been involved with the development of Team 13’s car.

Speaking on behalf of the Green Port Hull partnership, Tim Rix, Chair of the Green Port Growth Programme said:

“We are delighted to be supporting Project Blyth. We are always looking at ways to help the next workforce generation get the right skills they need to have a long and successful career in their chosen industry. For the young people who are thinking about a career in engineering this project does just that. The practical experience they will get through Project Blyth will be invaluable.

“I am also very grateful to the schools, young people, parents and the local businesses for supporting this project.”

Since its launch, Project Blyth has engaged with more than 2,000 young people. It is hoped the race day on Sunday 16th July will leave a legacy to take forward from 2017.

These are our creative minds and creators of the future. Let Project Blyth ignite their spark!

To follow Team 13’s progress, like their page on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @Team13PB. For more information on Project Blyth, visit www.projectblyth.co.uk

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