An ambitious project which will see a group of Year 9 pupils in Dudley build a fully working biplane has taken off thanks to a substantial STEM grant from the Millennium Point Trust

The 24 students from Dudley Academies Trust are working with the STEM High Fliers (SHF) charity to build a Sherwood Ranger microlight aircraft provided in kit form, funded by a grant of £19,700 from Millennium Point’s annual STEM grants programme - which provides funding annually to not-for-profit organisations, schools, and colleges across the West Midlands.

Two groups of 12 pupils meet every Tuesday on alternate weeks at a ‘hangar’ at Black Country & Marches Institute of Technology where the young aeronautical engineers are spending three years building the plane, with the aim to complete the project before their GCSEs.

The BC&M IoT workshop will be used to complete construction of the main components, with final assembly of the full aeroplane at a local airfield. After the pupils have all been on trips in the aeroplane, the Sherwood Ranger will then be sold to fund another similar project for the next group of lucky teenagers.

Jo Higgins, CEO of Dudley Academies Trust, commented:

"We are so grateful to be working in partnership on this with the Millennium Point Trust; this is the most wonderful opportunity for our young people using a fabulous project which brings the curriculum to life and aligns with one of our core values of 'dreaming big'".

Abbie Vlahakis, CEO of Millennium Point said:

“We’re immensely proud to be able to support projects like STEM High Fliers. It’s encouraging to see young people using and developing their skills and taking a real interest in STEM as a future career. Millennium Point Charitable Trust has made a significant difference in the region, particularly with projects such as this one.”

STEM High Fliers is a registered charity, whose prime objective is to inspire young people towards Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) specifically in aviation related projects.

Project manager and SHF trustee Mike Roach commented:

“The project gives the students the opportunity to enhance a range of life skills. We’ve already got these youngsters taking part in presentations, so they’re learning those skills, alongside a lot of teamwork and attention to detail. There’s a lot of precision needed so plenty of concentration and perseverance. They’re doing a fantastic job.”

Over the past eight years, the Millennium Point Charitable Trust has awarded over £40 million to charities, not-for-profits, community groups and schools to further STEM education.