Mike Hook, Executive Director of LMG has spoken about the sense of satisfaction and pride he took in leading our students in an Engineering Challenge Day.
LMG is one of eight prestigious partners leading our new Digital Futures Programme, which focuses on digital infrastructure and the data centre industry — giving students the tools they need to succeed in technical careers within the sector and beyond.
Each of the partners hold regular workshops with our students, and in February LMG ran an Engineering Challenge Day on data centre design, structured around two design challenges: one concerning WiFi and one on CCTV.
LMG threw in some healthy competition, splitting the students into teams and offering Amazon vouchers to the winners in each category.
Both challenges were based on recent LMG work on the ground floor of a data centre, located in the Thames Valley.
“We were blown away by the quality of the designs, so suffice to say, choosing those winners was not easy,” said Mike.
The WiFi challenge
The team started off by explaining WiFi as a concept -“You’d be surprised how many adults struggle here, never mind Year 10 students,” – and outlining its importance in the data centre. The students were asked how they would provide optimal WiFi coverage and performance at the lowest possible cost in an example data centre.
Mike explained the task: “It involved using as few wireless access points (WAPs) as possible while providing a minimum of -65dB coverage to all required areas of the building floorplans provided. With only coloured paper, a compass, pen/pencils, glue and scissors, the teams were given thirty minutes to do the work of a battle-hardened LMG engineer, with the winners being those who got it closest to the LMG design.
“It was great to see how quickly the students took to the challenge, got engaged, and poured their efforts into designing solutions to achieve cost effective full WiFi coverage across the data centre, without causing frequency clashes,” Mike said.
The CCTV challenge
Similar to the first challenge, LMG provided an overview of CCTV and its role in assuring the security of the data centre, providing a fundamental role in smart building management. Once more, the task was to design optimal CCTV coverage at lowest possible cost in an example data centre.
Mike explained: “This task was a little different. In addition to creating a coverage design using coloured dots representing different camera types, the teams were required to consider the power and connectivity (PoE) requirements in addition to providing adequate storage capacity. That meant deciding where to place the different camera types, and then calculating power budgets and storage requirements — lots of moving parts and plenty to think about.
“Again, it was heartening to see how readily the teams got stuck in. The winner here really was too close to call, so the top two teams both went home with prizes that day. We couldn’t have asked for a better result.”
One of the students who took part, Jasmine, had this to say: “I enjoyed LMG’s workshop as it expanded my knowledge on the security of data centres and the financial side towards good security. They were particularly good at explaining what to do and were able to answer everyone’s questions easily, even off topic related questions.
“I enjoyed the workshop activities they gave us as they were well-planned and good group activities with everyone in my class working together with minimum complaints. I enjoyed this workshop very much and would like to do a similar one in the future.”
Teaching the teacher
But the students weren’t the only ones who came away having learned a few things.
“I’ve always wondered why teachers teach: well qualified, committed people who don’t get the financial rewards and respect they deserve,” he said.
“The following week, packing away our pop-up booth at UTC Heathrow’s Open Evening, I found out.
“I was approached by a couple of students. One of them explained that she’d attended our Engineering Challenge Day and just wanted to thank my colleagues and I for a great learning experience. She said her class had really enjoyed the insight that the LMG team had given into smart data centre design and that Year 10 were all looking forward to the next Digital Futures challenge.
“Her authenticity and enthusiasm were truly humbling and after a personally challenging week, made me feel ten feet tall.
“Now I know why teachers teach.”