Air cadets have a go at engineering

Rutland STEM engineering
Rutland STEM engineering

Rutland Air Cadets from 2248 Squadron put the E into STEM when they visited 71 Inspection and Repair Squadron at RAF Wittering last week.

STEM is a government led initiative which encourages young people to take up science, technology, engineering and maths subjects at school. Engineering was top of the list when cadets from Rutland visited 71 Inspection and Repair Squadron for some real world RAF engineering.

During their day with 71 Squadron the cadets riveted together two metal links, which were then pulled apart and examined using ultrasound equipment.

71 Squadron is at the forefront of engineering in the Royal Air Force. The squadron has several functions and is well known for the structural repairs it carries out to deployed military aircraft and its contributions to the Bloodhound Supersonic Car project.

Corporal Christopher Adamson is one of 71 Squadron’s best known instructors, in his spare time he uses his engineering skills to maintain his steam traction engine ‘Vanguard’. He was on hand to make sure the cadets had expert guidance with the practical metalwork.

“A lot of them hadn’t even seen a rivet before, so this was their first time at hands on engineering work. They all seemed to enjoy the task and it gave them an insight into traditional engineering methods.”

2248 Squadron is the only county-based unit in the Air Cadets, they is a team of 13 to 18 year olds who meet on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in Oakham. Judging by the remarks they made, which included ‘brilliant’, ‘really good’, great and even ‘awesome’ it seems the cadets valued their STEM experience.

RAF Wittering’s Station Commander, Group Captain Tony Keeling was an aircraft technician before he commissioned as an engineering officer. He was impressed by what he saw and even had a go.

He said: “The cadets are getting to grips with understanding the basic principles of repair-engineering; making a component and then understanding the fault using ultrasound equipment. Riveting might seem like basic stuff, but it is where so many of us start our engineering careers.

“Engineering requires a good theoretical understanding and an ability to apply your knowledge practically to any real world situation.”