Students learn cutting-edge tech skills to bring Veterans Village to life

Sixth Form students are using state-of-the-art technology skills to help create a visual walkthrough of the world’s first purpose-built centre of its kind for veterans.

Year 12 engineering students from Ron Dearing University Technology College (UTC) in Hull are learning how to use Autodesk Revit 3D building information modelling (BIM) software, used by leading architects, to assist in the creation of a virtual reality tour of the Hull 4 Heroes Veterans Village.

The Veterans Village is championed by TV celebrity Nick Knowles and aims to be a self-sustaining site providing transitional support for ex-service personnel and their families, creating a safe and stable environment to help them adjust to civilian life. It will include housing, training and support facilities, as well as a visitors centre for the wider community.

Left to right: Year 12 student Josh Lake, 16, Trevor Fishburn, Project Manager and Trustee at Hull 4 Heroes, Paul Matson, Founder of Hull 4 Heroes, Glenn Jensen, Head of Engineering and Employer-led Projects at Ron Dearing UTC, and Year 12 student Sam Malone, 17. Image by R&R Studio. Taken 17th March.


With the support of Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council, the Hull 4 Heroes charity has secured a 22-acre site next to Priory Road in Hull, extending into the boundaries of both authorities.

Seven Ron Dearing UTC students are currently involved in the project outside their usual school studies after completing their Computer-aided Design (CAD) unit to distinction level months ahead of schedule. More students are expected to join the team, working closely with Cleethorpes-based Hodson Architects and the Hull 4 Heroes team over the coming months.

Working with Hodson Architects, the students are using the architectural design drawings to bring the Veterans Village to life, enabling people to have a detailed view of the charity’s vision through virtual reality technology. The end product will be used to attract potential funders and investors, while also showcasing the project to other interested parties.

Left to right: Year 12 students Josh Lake, 16, and Sam Malone, 17, with Paul Matson, Founder of Hull 4 Heroes. Image by R&R Studio. Taken 17th March.


The students’ work illustrates the advanced tech skills developed by students at the employer-led school, which specialises in digital technology, creative digital and digital engineering and is supported by a host of leading businesses.

Glenn Jensen, Head of Engineering and Employer-led Projects at Ron Dearing UTC, said: “This is the first time our students have been involved a project like this, particularly at this level, and the skills and software they are using have been identified as critical in the architecture and building industries.

“This is another string to their bows and the skills they are learning are massively transferable to the careers they hope to progress to.

“It’s fantastic for learners of this age to contribute to a flagship project to help support the rehabilitation of veterans, which is so important and will change lives for the better.”

CGI impression of the Veterans Village reception area, created by Hodson Architects, ahead of the work by Ron Dearing UTC students.


The Veterans Village is the brainchild of Hull 4 Heroes Chairman Paul Matson, who founded the charity in 2016 following his own struggle after leaving the Army, and TV presenter Nick Knowles, with support from Project Manager and Hull 4 Heroes Trustee, Trevor Fishburn.

Inspired by the work on the BBC One’s popular DIY SOS programme, presented by Nick, and backed by a team of supporters and a local professional design team, the charity developed the idea to house and support those in need.

The Veterans Village will include 48 homes for individuals or families, which they can live in and access tailored support for up to two years. It is hoped this village will be the first of many and the model will help veterans transition back into civilian life for decades to come.

CGI impression of the Veterans Village education centre, created by Hodson Architects, ahead of the work by Ron Dearing UTC students.


The Ron Dearing UTC students have been using their school layout to learn and practice their new-found software skills through virtual reality technology, by assessing any future structural changes required for the building, creating virtual furniture and bringing the reception area to life, before starting work on the Veterans Village.

Sixteen-year-old Josh Lake, a Year 12 student involved in the project, said: “It’s an amazing experience and I’m learning new skills for the future. The Veterans Village is a great idea and I’m really proud to be involved.”

Fellow Year 12 student Sam Malone, 17, said: “The software enables you to look at materials, change the shapes of buildings and create bespoke elements such as tables, doors and windows. It feels really good to be part of something which will help change lives.”

Paul said the students were the first of their age group to be involved in the project on this level.

He said: “Getting young people involved and drawing on their industry-level skills and inspiration is the best part of it. They are so intelligent and can bring more light to this project than ever before.

“It’s great to work together and it’s something the students can always be proud of. Of the Hull and East Riding population, 10% are veterans or are members of the veterans community. The Hull 4 Heroes Veterans Village will save countless lives and these students are playing their own part in that.”

Trevor, a former Royal Navy Artificer (skilled mechanic) and Weapons Engineer, added: “This is the talent of today helping the veterans of yesterday. They are helping the community to grow while supporting veterans to adjust back into civilian life.”

Nick praised Ron Dearing UTC students for their contribution to the Hull 4 Heroes project, which he has championed.

He said: “It’s important to us at the charity to make sure when we build the village, it’s ecologically sound and that we are using cutting-edge technology, water management, eco power creation and building materials to provide the best possible environment in which our veterans can work, live and prosper.

“To have young people who are developing new skills every day involved from an early stage to further their abilities and represent our vision to the greater public and possible investors is both exciting and critical to the success of the venture.”

For more information about Hull 4 Heroes, visit

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Kelham invited to prestigious summer school for UK’s top student mathematicians

A Year 11 student has become the first from Ron Dearing UTC to be invited to a national summer school for the UK’s elite young mathematicians.

Kelham Hillier, 16, was one of about 40 students to take on this year’s Intermediate Mathematical Challenge in school, with an ambition to progress into further rounds of the national competition.

The initial challenge was a 60-minute, multiple-choice competition designed to make students across the UK think, encouraging mathematical reasoning, precision of thought and fluency in using basic mathematical techniques to solve problems – all without the use of a calculator. It was taken under exam conditions and the results were marked externally.

Although Kelham was one of five students to receive the top gold award and progress into the next round of the challenge, he has now become the only student – and the first ever from Ron Dearing UTC – to be offered a place at the summer school following his outstanding performance.

He is one of just 48 students nationally to receive an invitation and is among the top 1.5% of those who entered the challenge across the country.

Kelham said: “I didn’t expect to get to this point and I’m really happy and overwhelmed. I would like to go into a career involving maths, as I love problem-solving and getting to the root of something.

“It’s nice and gratifying to know I’m one of the best in this subject. I’m looking forward to meeting other people at the summer school and being able to push maths as far as I can while learning new things.”

Organised by the United Kingdom Mathematics Trust (UKMT), the summer school is one of four planned to take place in July and August, with the 57th event to be held at Woodhouse Grove School, in Leeds, from July 26 to 31. It will be led by experienced educators, who are enthusiastic mathematicians and UKMT charity volunteers.

Kelham is no stranger to success after claiming six awards at our annual Celebration of Achievement Evening last year, including the University of Hull Award for Academic Excellence.

Lisa Regan, our Lead Practitioner, said: “We are thrilled to have students of Kelham’s quality at Ron Dearing UTC.

“His achievement shows how hard he has worked on his mathematical knowledge and the application of that to solve problems.

“His enthusiasm shines through and he is among an elite group of students who have been invited to the summer school from across the country.

“It will be an opportunity for Kelham to meet with like-minded students, get a better view of future career possibilities and potentially look at new avenues of study he hasn’t considered before.”

Other students also entered the challenge, with bronze awards secured by eight Year 10, four Year 11 and five Year 12 students, and silver certificates awarded to three Year 10, one Year 11 and four Year 12 students.

Gold awards were secured by two Year 10 and three Year 11 students, including Kelham, and they all progress to the Pink Kangaroo round, a 60-minute, multiple-choice competition consisting of 25 problems.

Meanwhile, three Year 12 and one Year 13 student also competed in a Senior Team Challenge against other students from the local area in November 2019. Although they didn’t place, Lisa said they showed excellent teamwork and skill in solving complex mathematical problems.

Lisa added: “Our students have been entering the UKMT events for the last three years, but this year’s cohort really are exceptional, with five Intermediate students getting through to the next round.

“All problems set by the UKMT are calculated with only pen and paper, so strong numeracy skills are absolutely essential, which is something we have a real focus on as soon as students join us in Year 10.”

Y10 Parents evening cancelled

Given the current situation with Coronavirus, I have been advised to avoid creating situations where large groups of people congregate in school, other than our staff and students. This, unfortunately, means that I am having to cancel the Year 10 Parents’ Evening tonight. I am extremely sorry for the short notice and any inconvenience caused. Coronavirus advice is being issued almost on an hourly basis and we are having to respond accordingly.

In terms of school closure, there are no plans to shut RDUTC at the moment. We are, however, working on a plan to mitigate disruption to learning should we be informed by the Department for Education that the school must shut. I will keep you posted about this.

Again I am really sorry to cancel parents evening. We will reschedule as soon as we are able.

Thank you very much for your understanding and support.

Students take design to another level in innovative smart thermostat project

Our Engineering Design students at have created their own versions of smart thermostats in a project set by leading experts in the heating industry, Ideal Boilers.

The brief, set by the Research & Development and Internet of Things teams at Ideal Boilers, challenged Year 11 students to research the innovative product and the current variations on the market.  They then had to design and prototype their own smart thermostats, using digital technology and 3D printing techniques.

Following the entire design process, they drew 2D sketches and created cardboard prototypes before generating digital 3D models using the skills required by engineers employed by Ideal Boilers, one of the school’s Major Partners.

40 Year 11 students completed the project as part of their OCR National qualification.  It was so successful that it is now being repeated with 60 Year 10 students.

Year 11 student Kelham Hillier took part in the project, which saw students create their own versions of smart thermostats in a project set by leading experts in the heating industry, Ideal Boilers.


Glenn Jensen, our Head of Engineering and Employer Projects, said: “The students’ 3D work is absolutely fantastic. It’s very unusual for students of this age to use software like this and they have really enjoyed it.

“It’s a breath of fresh air to have a project which follows industry, step by step, and goes through the same problem-solving and thought processes that you would find in a design department.

“The backing from Ideal Boilers has been excellent in terms of supplying the brief, which gets the students thinking about sustainability and design, enabling them to live that process and communicate it professionally to people in industry.”

Glenn said the students had to carry out thorough research for the project and check it against the brief, creating the prototype before final production. Manufacturing, sustainability and materials were also carefully considered in the design process, particularly from an environmental perspective.

Glenn said: “The plastic they’ve used to create their designs using the 3D printers is 100% recyclable and biodegradable and any scrap is recycled into fresh materials. The importance of sustainability is really important to us at Ron Dearing UTC and our students are very environmentally aware.”

The 3D designs, including the thermostat casing and shell, were created using 3D printers from Hull-based digital design and fabrication experts NFire Labs Limited, based at C4DI , Hull’s innovative Digital Tech Hub.

Ideal Boilers, which has more than 100 years’ innovation and experience in the heating industry, also works with local companies to create global products, including leading C4DI-based software company, Sauce.  Sauce is the tech partner that designed the software behind Ideal Boilers’ smart heating systems.

Dr Elaine Lancaster, Chief Technical Officer at Ideal Boilers, based in National Avenue, west Hull, said: “As we grow and expand in the digital technology sector for future products, projects like this really help students to understand the type of technology we may be looking for in the future and it is a pathway for student development.

“It has been wonderful to hear how engaged the students have been. This experience will make them more equipped for jobs and this is how we can create ready-made engineers of the future.”

Year 11 student Kelham Hillier, 16, who completed the project, said: “It taught me a lot about how I can improve the way I think about design and I really enjoyed it. I definitely think this is a path I could take in the future.”

Amy Rickles was one of 40 students who completed the project as part of their OCR National qualification.


Fellow student Amy Rickles, 16, added: “I gained a lot of computer-aided design (CAD) skills and found out how to create engineering drawings linked to design ideas and thermostat shapes.  I would like to be an engineer and design buildings. Doing a project like this gives me ideas for the future and the type of software I could use.”