Meldrum Academy triumphs in TechFest’s STEM in the Pipeline Challenge

The winning MAPS team from Meldrum Academy, from left: Finn Hilton, Oliver Rudeck and Jack Somerville (all S6)Photo by Ross Johnston/Newsline Media

SENIOR pupils from Meldrum Academy emerged victorious in TechFest’s annual STEM in the Pipeline – Energising the Transition competition for 2023. The competition, held at bp’s North Sea headquarters in Aberdeen on December 6, saw 11 schools participate, showcasing their skills in physics, maths, chemistry, and geology to industry experts.

The winning team, Meldrum Academy Power Solutions (MAPS), comprised S6 pupils Jack Somerville, Oliver Rudeck, and Finn Hilton, all aged 17. Their comprehensive understanding of the energy transition challenge, along with a 3D model of a fictional oilfield, secured the top spot. Judges commended their “real clarity of purpose” and exceptional technical knowledge.

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Jack Somerville shared his experience, stating, “Working together to plan the project has been really good. It has given us a deep insight into the oil and gas industry.” The MAPS team’s project involved determining the oil reservoir’s volume and devising an economically viable plan for extraction.

TechFest’s STEM in the Pipeline initiative challenges secondary school pupils to apply their science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) knowledge to a fictional oilfield project. The goal is to bridge the knowledge gap between education and the energy sector, offering students valuable skills and insights.

Dr Martha Gavan, deputy managing director of TechFest, highlighted the initiative’s purpose, saying, “It provides pupils with a chance to use knowledge gained in STEM subjects at school to solve our energy industry challenge.” The competition is sponsored by bp, Harbour Energy, the North Sea Transition Authority, and Apache North Sea, with support from CNOOC International.

Volunteer mentors from the industry played a pivotal role in guiding the participating teams. Barry Nicol of Harbour Energy expressed the rewarding experience of mentoring, stating, “It’s been encouraging to help the next generation and develop partnerships with them.”

Teams of up to six pupils, aged 17-18, were tasked with producing a field development plan for the fictional ‘STEM’ oil field. The challenge encompassed devising a strategic and profitable approach to oil extraction while addressing greenhouse gas emissions.

Doris Reiter, Senior Vice President, bp North Sea, lauded the initiative, saying, “Building a better energy future depends on developing exceptional talent with the skills in science, technology, engineering, and maths to unlock transformative solutions.”

Each member of the winning team received a £30 Amazon voucher, with the second-place team, Reservoir Raiders from Robert Gordon’s College, receiving a £20 voucher each. Pupils completing the STEM in the Pipeline project are eligible to apply for a Silver CREST Award.

TechFest, an Aberdeen-based charity, aims to engage young people in STEM subjects, demonstrating their relevance and fun in day-to-day life. For more information on TechFest, visit

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