Conrad Manning Racing and the launch of Minimakers

Conrad talks to us about his passion for getting young children involved in the world of engineering.

Conrad Manning Racing is born from Conrad’s goal of racing around the world in one of the most technologically advanced sailing boats in the world, the IMOCA60. Due to the wide variety of engineering disciplines that sailing has and Conrad’s own background in Naval Architecture a second side of the project has been set up to match his goal for the sailing to give back to the community, which is how ZAPA has come about.

November the 11th. Significant for remembering those who lost their lives in war. This year it was also when The Makers Guild and I launched Minimakers.

Having seen the clear need for more to be done to engage the next generation of engineers we teamed up to deliver a Saturday STEM club where, as well as having a good time, young kids had the opportunity to get their hands dirty and practically understand what goes into designing boats.

The event started with learning about the 3 rules of designing a quick gutter boat.

  1. It needs to float.
  2. It needs to stay upright.
  3. It needs to be quick.

It needing to float was explained by looking at density as well as volume and could be summarised as if the weight of the water moved out of the way is more than the boat then it will float

Staying upright required more imagination… Learning about centres of mass is quite a challenging one and even more so about centres of buoyancy. Once drawn out though where the buoyancy is pushing upwards and the mass falling downwards they could understand that having the weight low down was important.

Finally, having a demonstration with a spoon and tap of water or a hand out of the car when driving they had the outline of the shape they wanted.

The fun bit then came where they split into 3 teams to build their boat from balsa/water bottle/foam. I thought this little video and a few photos would do more justice to what they were doing than text:

Finally came the race off. Partnering up they had a drag race down 2 lengths of house guttering where they could really see how their designs met and achieved those three rules and how the one which best matched them came out on top! Hopefully, with their boats at home, they can continue modifying their designs to find the best one!

We're now looking at ways in which we can continue this experience particularly bringing in more industry involvement so if you would like to help us give these kids the skills and confidence to become our future engineers then get in touch.

If you would like to find out more about Conrad, head over to his website or follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.