Enterprising Caldicot School students who designed a winning Techniquest exhibit have visited their compound semiconductor-themed creation in Cardiff Bay.
The students were tasked with devising a display that would increase public understanding of how microchips and wafers are made across the compound semiconductor and photonics industry, which employs thousands of people in South Wales.
The School worked with Newport Wafer Fab — a company with over 30 years’ experience in fabricating world-class, high-end silicon devices — as part of the Engineering Education Scheme Wales. The not-for-profit charity brings students and industry together to work on real-world challenges.
The pupils took a site tour of the Newport plant before designing the showpiece exhibit for Techniquest — the UK’s longest established science centre.
Student Conor Scott said: "After the year of COVID, and things being delayed left, right and centre, it’s quite nice to finally get to see it. It’s great."
Fellow student Gruff added: "I think it’s brilliant that it’s been explained in quite an interactive manner, because children are going to be able to come in, see it, play with it, and hopefully it’s going to inspire a new generation of engineers."
Teacher Mark Sheridan added: "I think for the students, it’s the fact that they’ve had input into something that’s physical. Because a lot of times, you have an idea, you do a project, it’s all on paper, and then when they go it’s the next generation through, and we’re onto another problem. But the fact that it’s physically here — I tell all my engineering students about it, because it’s inspirational."
Five teams from Basseleg School, St John’s College High School and Caldicot took part in the challenge. The winning entry was selected by a panel of judges from Techiquest, EESW, NWF and CSconnected - the world’s first compound semiconductor cluster — which brings together industry, investors, academics and government, led by Cardiff University.
James Summers, Head of Projects at Techniquest said: "The partnership with CSconnected plays a vital role in Techniquest’s objectives to engage and showcase industries and innovation here in Wales. This exhibit highlights the breakthrough advances in compound semiconductor technology taking place in Wales that is vital to the technology we use in our everyday lives. Thanks to CSconnected and contributions by pupils at Caldicot School, this exhibit is built to evolve as the technology advances, inspiring future engineers for years to come."
Chris Meadows, Director of CSconnected, said: "We’d like to say a big ’thank you’ to Caldicot School who contributed to the compound semiconductor exhibit at Techniquest. CSconnected works closely with schools, colleges and universities in the region to promote STEM-related skills and careers. Our community provides more than 1500 highly skilled and high-value jobs and that number is set to double over the coming years, so it is vital to engage early on with students and inspire them to one day become the next of generation of engineers in Wales that will be driving tomorrow’s technology."