Washington pupils’ car vacuum design cleans up in Dragons Den-style challenge

The winning team with John Barnett and Michelle Brown of Calsonic Kansei.
The winning team with John Barnett and Michelle Brown of Calsonic Kansei.
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Creative students won a prestigious award thanks to their innovative design for an in-car vacuum cleaner.

More than 1,000 young people from across the city took part in Work Discovery Week, which brought together students from 21 schools and scores of businesses from across the region.

These young people have done some amazing work, some of which adults twice their age would have struggled to come up with

John Barnett, operations director at Calsonic Kansei

The event culminated in a Dragons’ Den-style challenge, where pupils were asked to create a new product, piece of equipment or service for the business of their choice and present their work to a panel of judges.

Ideas put forward across two sessions included the creation of eco-friendly holiday homes made of recycled glass in Sunderland, an app that helped victims of crime and a piece of software to improve road safety.

It was Washington school St Robert of Newminster Stem (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) Club which won, with their sophisticated plan for an in-car vacuum cleaner that could be fitted in the glove compartment and worked via the air-conditioning system.

Biddick Academy was named as runners-up after devising a biometric thumb scanner business.

The final day, which was sponsored by global automotive company Calsonic Kansei, brought together business experts from Work Discovery Week sponsors Gentoo, University of Sunderland, Sunderland College, Accenture, SAFC, Liebherr, Northern Print Solutions and Ashmore Consultants.

John Barnett, operations director of Calsonic Kansei, who gave the opening address on the final day at the Stadium of Light, said he was “overwhelmed” by the quality of the presentations and praised the “amazing work.”