Charlie Smith (Sedgwick, U6) was the winner of a national technology and design award earlier this month, judged by industry professionals on the research, design and manufacture of his innovative ‘SOLA’ water-heating stove.

All 12 finalists in the Manufacturing Technology Association’s (MTA) annual Technology, Design and Innovation (TDI) Challenge impressed the judges with their engineering talent. 

Open to all Technology and Design students, the nation-wide competition is split into two age groups: 14-16 years old and 17-19. The 12 finalists were chosen by the MTA’s Education and Training committee and the final judging and award ceremony took place on 9 July at the Yamazaki Mazak European Headquarters in Worcester.

Charlie Smith won the 17-19 years category for his ‘SOLA’ stove, created for, and inspired by, outdoor expeditions.

The MTA’s TDI Challenge exists to help teachers and lecturers promote the great work of their D&T and Engineering students and to celebrate the creativity and innovation taking place inside the curriculum. The TDI Challenge is free to enter for all students and schools.

Howard Bamforth, Chair of the Judges and Sales Director of 600 UK, said, “The judging panel were impressed with the high calibre of this year’s finalists and the range of different technologies they used. That made judging this year particularly difficult but two entries stood out even from such a high quality field.

Charlie Smith and Ben Murray both presented work of very high standard that had been thoroughly researched, well manufactured and were virtually ready for sale. Congratulations to them and their schools.”

Charlie, 18, from Rugby, attended Bilton Grange Prep School, and came to Sedbergh on an Art Scholarship. He studied Art, Design and Physics at A Level and has been involved with the RAF CCF for the past five years.

He said: “The main inspiration for designing this equipment came from my expeditions last summer to Iceland and Malawi. I went on a charitable expedition to Malawi for one month and seven days after having returned, I set off to become the youngest Brit to cross Iceland North to South, unsupported. in attempting this feat I broke the record by three days and so became the youngest and fastest. 

“On my expedition in Iceland, I was constantly having to pack and repack the bag, having to rewash all the cooking equipment in sometimes scarce amounts of water and was always reassessing what wasn’t actually needed.

I realised that I had been carrying four metal fuel bottles full of petrol (of which I only used one), however the four were necessary because every day we were having to boil water to drink, clean and clean bowls with, and then cook food!

The idea came when I tried to combine a method to boil the water and cook the food at the same time, through development – the product showed that it was capable of boiling 1 litre of water in around one third of the time. 

“I think I was selected by the panel because I have created an entirely new system and product – there is nothing like this on the market at the moment. My portfolio is strong and has impressed people working in the design and technology industry.”

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