22 June, 2024

OAS apprentices take on the Emma Wiggs challenge

22 May, 2023

Leading engineering and apprentice training centre Oxfordshire Advanced Skills (OAS) has hosted double Paralympic Champion Emma Wiggs, to launch the new Emma Wiggs Challenge aimed at using design engineering to improve life for people with disabilities.

Emma Wiggs MBE is a 10-time world champion para-canoeist and double Paralympic champion, having won gold medals at the Rio and Tokyo Paralympics. Since a mystery virus impaired mobility in her legs at age 18, Emma has dedicated herself to sport, inspiring people as she shows what is possible with determination and a positive mindset.

Having previously tasked OAS’s training provider, the Manufacturing Technology Centre, to design a bespoke canoe paddle which helped her achieve gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Emma Wiggs has presented a fresh challenge to OAS apprentices.

The Emma Wiggs Challenge is an exclusive competition, designed by OAS in partnership with Emma, and tasks first year engineering apprentices at OAS to find solutions through design and manufacture for challenges that people with disabilities might face in everyday life. It could be something wheelchairbased or relate to an everyday task which someone with a disability might find more challenging.

Apprentices are forming small teams to work on their design concepts, with Emma hosting virtual workshops over the course of the challenge, enabling each team to ask questions and refine their design concepts.

Teams will present their concepts and ideas to Emma and a panel of judges in June, as they near the end of the first year of their apprenticeship with OAS. The winners will spend a day with Emma Wiggs at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham where they will get a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility and try some water-based activities as part of their prize.

Emma Wiggs said: “I’m so proud to be supporting apprentices at this crucial early stage of their career. I’ve always thrived on inspiring people to be the best version of themselves that they can be, and through this challenge I hope to help inspire the apprentices at OAS to create new design concepts to help people with disabilities in their everyday lives.”

After the launch event, Emma Johnstone, operations manager at OAS, commented: “It was great to have Emma Wiggs here to meet the apprentices, share her experiences and help inspire them to achieve their maximum potential as well as look at how their new engineering skills could support others, in this case, putting a focus on the real challenges peo

ple with disabilities face in their daily lives. We want OAS to be as inclusive and accessible as possible for all our future apprentices. “I can’t wait to see the ideas and designs that the apprentices come up with and look forward to welcoming Emma back in the summer to help us pick a winning team.”



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