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Royal Navy Engineering Challenge 2021

Students use their STEM skills to design and build a compact, remotely operated vessel to recover objects from the seabed.

Royal Navy Engineering Challenge 2021

The Royal Navy Engineering Challenge 2021 (RNEC 21) is a curriculum-linked STEM activity where students design and build a compact, remotely operated vessel to be deployed from the ship, to recover objects from the seabed.

RNEC 21 will take place in a number of regions across the UK in the second half of March 2021. This is the 7th year of the competition. In a departure from previous years, to be able to react to the Covid 19 pandemic, it is intended to run smaller regional finals rather than a large single event at HMS SULTAN.

To enable national participation, each school will be limited to a maximum of 5 applications, from which the finalists will be selected. Therefore it is recommended that schools select their applications for the RNEC 21 selection process using an internal process. Schools may then continue to run Exercise Precision Recovery as a design and build competition for all students and the RN organisers can provide guidance on request. Teams selected to progress from 4 December 2020 to the finals will receive a unique account code to spend up to £150 RN grant with the approved component supplier. 


The RNEC 21 can involve entire year groups. Overall capacity for the competition will be constrained to 60 teams and, depending on the number of schools and team applications, this may limit participation to 2 teams per school. Final numbers will be decided based on the quality of initial design reports. 

Dates and Location

Where possible, locations will be chosen so that no team will have to drive for over 90 minutes to complete and no accommodation will be required.

Key dates are:

• 27 November 2020 – deadline for submission of Design Report and Application Form
• 4 December 2020 – selection of teams and allocation of funds
• January 2021 – RN Teams visit schools (or meet virtually if Covid-19 constrained) to advise and assess progress
• March 2021- series of regional final events
• Results announcement – on completion of all regional events


The time allocated to participation is determined by individual schools, which may use RNEC 21 as a curriculum-linked project delivered during curriculum time or as an extra-curricular activity, sometimes delivered within STEM Club.


Learning outcomes

  • Improve engagement, interest or enjoyment in STEM subjects

  • Improve attainment and progress in STEM subjects

  • Develop engineering employability skills

  • Improve awareness and aspirations for STEM-related study and careers

  • Challenge stereotypes by showing the diversity of disciplines, people and skills involved in engineering

Subjects and topics

    • Design and Technology
    • Engineering
    • Maths
    • Physics
    • Electronics/Robotics/Programming
    • General Engineering
    • Materials/Products/Manufacturing
    • Mechanical Engineering/Systems/Processes
    • Transport

Gatsby benchmarks

The Gatsby benchmarks are a framework for good careers guidance for schools across all of England and in some areas across the rest of the UK. This experience helps your school to reach the following benchmarks:

  • Addressing the needs of each pupil
  • Linking curriculum learning to careers
  • Encounters with employers and employees

Essential skills

The essential skills every young person needs to succeed in education and their future career. Find out more at the Skills Builder Partnership. This experience builds the following skills:

  • Aiming High - the ability to set clear, tangible goals and devise a robust route to achieving them.

  • Creativity - the use of imagination and the generation of new ideas.

  • Leadership - supporting, encouraging and motivating others to achieve a shared goal.

  • Listening - the ability to listen and understand information.

  • Problem Solving - the ability to find a solution to a complex situation or challenge.

  • Speaking - the oral transmission of information or ideas.

  • Staying Positive - the ability to use tactics to overcome setbacks and achieve goals.

  • Teamwork - working cooperatively with others towards achieving a shared goal.

What the teachers say

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