Freddie Rawlins and Andrew Bonner (both now Upper Sixth Formers) have been working closely with Mr Taylor (Physics Teachers and Head of STEM) to build a new computer for the STEM department at Whitgift.
Their work began last term, conceptualising the plans and developing the core requirements; the computer needed to be able to run simulations and edit complex Computer Aided Design (CAD) files. The team’s design utilised industry-level components and water-cooling technology; the boys were involved with all elements of the project, from ordering the parts to building and configuring the computer (the assembly being completed over two weeks).
The boys have learned a lot from the project and their work has benefitted many students already. The computer has been used to model the STEM car as part of the Green Power Car competition to design, build and race an electric vehicle. Also, to run wind tunnel simulations measuring aerodynamics over the car that would not have been feasible without the machine which provides vast amounts of computing power.
Freddie really enjoyed the process, commenting, “It’s been a great experience and the ability to carry out virtual testing has meant we have been better able to design components for the STEM car. With the addition of the Vive Virtual Reality Headset, not only can we look at models on a screen but we can now walk around and edit them as if they were in the room.”
The new equipment has massively broadened creative potential throughout numerous departments and projects, as well as allowing students to ensure that the size and scale of their modelling is suitable for the real world. Some of our A Level Design Technology and Engineering students plan to use the computer to show a concept design to their clients, enabling them to get much better feedback about their products.
In addition to the increase in creative options now available to students, the speed and efficiency with which they are able to test has vastly improved. Freddie explained, “We are now able to produce renders (visualising 3D models with realistic lighting and materials) in a matter of minutes whereas before it may have taken hours or even days.” The increased capabilities mean students can produce results that would not have been possible on other machines within the department.
Mr Taylor was delighted to help fund this project as Head of STEM: “Building a powerful computer presented an excellent opportunity to invest in technology which would benefit both the Computer Science and Design and Technology departments. I hope this machine allows both staff and students to explore new possibilities for using 3D graphics and modelling in their lessons.”
The School looks forward to seeing how the equipment will benefit other projects over the upcoming terms – exciting times ahead.