Sofia launches Engineering Innovation Competition for Teesside University students

80 Engineering Foundation Year Degree students will be supported through this the team-based competition by RWE experts, with the winners announced in May.

  • 25 January 2024

Sofia Offshore Wind Farm launches engineering competition for Teesside University students

RWE has today launched the Sofia Engineering Innovation Competition, at Teesside University.

Students are being challenged to deliver blade inspection innovations for the offshore wind industry. Working in teams and adopting the role of new start-up companies, the competition asks students to develop inspection solutions which also take into account technician safety and business costs. The teams that develop the top two concepts will receive cash prizes.

The competition is now in its third year, and is delivered as part of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Sofia Offshore Wind Farm and Teesside University. RWE has also recently awarded a scholarship to a Teesside University Masters student, following the establishing of the scholarship last month.

As part of the competition, students will be taken to the Siemens Gamesa (SGRE) blade factory in Hull. In an industry-first, the blades of 44 of Sofia’s 100 turbines will be recyclable, produced by SGRE at the Hull facility. This is in line with Sofia’s commitment to the domestic supply chain, with over 50% of project content coming from UK suppliers. It also supports the growing role the Humber region has to play in supplying the offshore wind industry.

These activities are part of Sofia’s education programme, which is designed to encourage and support students into careers in offshore wind. The education programme includes engagement with pupils of all ages, from primary school through to postgraduate levels.

The challenge is being overseen by Dr Reza Mohammadi, Lecturer in Energy and Sustainability at the School of Computing, Engineering & Digital Technologies, who said: “The Blades Competition will enhance the skills of our students by challenging them to apply their knowledge in a real-world professional scenario. Teesside University's strong relationship with the Sofia Offshore Wind Farm is exemplified through this collaboration, offering our students valuable opportunities and industry connections. In partnership with Sofia Offshore Wind Farm, it reflects the impactful collaborations we value at Teesside University.”

Jonathan Grigg, Senior Project Manager for the Sofia Offshore Wind Farm, said: “The Sofia project delivers an education outreach programme in collaboration with schools, colleges and universities throughout the project area.

The blade turbine inspection competition is a high point of this programme each year.

Through opportunities like this innovation challenge and the blade factory visit, we hope to inspire young people to choose a career in offshore wind.

RWE is working with communities around the United Kingdom on its plans to deliver several more offshore wind farms in the coming decades: we’re building the workforce we need tomorrow by partnering with education providers today.”

The challenge is set by the Sofia team and forms part of the students’ coursework for the year. The competition will be judged and winners announced in May 2024.