Ready, set, robot

12 January 2022

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) is inspiring the next generation of budding engineers by sponsoring a primary school competition for children to design a robot.

The EPSRC UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems (UK-RAS) Network has launched the 2022 ‘Draw A Robot’ design challenge and ‘Once Upon A Robot’ writing competition. Key Stage 1 and 2 children, from 5 – 11-years-old, have been asked to share their robot-inspired designs and creative writing with an expert panel – comprising top robotics researchers, and judges from the creative and literary arts.

For the ‘Draw A Robot’ competition, children in Key Stage 1 have the chance to draw a robot that they would like to see in the future; the robot can be designed to accomplish any task or job. The children can use pencils, pens, paints, or even natural materials to design their robot, and they can explain its functions by labelling key features and special gadgets.

The judging panel includes Dr Daniela Sawyer, technical lead in robotic machining at the University of Sheffield AMRC’s Factory 2050, and Sarah Parker, assistant project manager at Factory 2050.

The lucky winner of the ‘Draw A Robot’ competition will be given a guided tour of the AMRC’s Factory 2050 in Sheffield, the UK’s first state-of-the-art factory dedicated to reconfigurable digitally assisted assembly.

The lucky winner of the ‘Draw A Robot’ competition will be given a guided tour of the AMRC’s Factory 2050 in Sheffield.

EPSRC UK-RAS Network chair, Robert Richardson, said: “It’s once again our great pleasure to be launching these fantastic competitions, which have become a firm favourite in the calendar of many primary schools, and which offer a really unique opportunity to engage children creatively in the world of robotics and automation.

“We’re hugely looking forward to seeing what ideas our next generation of authors and designers come up with, and to the enjoyable and inspiring task of judging all the many superb entries as they roll in.”

The ‘Once Upon A Robot’ writing competition is open to all Key Stage 2 children, and challenges competition participants to write a creative short-story featuring any kind of robot or robots their imagination can conjure. Children will have 800 words to tell their creative tales.

The winner of the ‘Once Upon A Robot’ competition will receive a tour of Heriot-Watt University’s National Robotarium in Edinburgh, a world-leading centre for robotics and artificial intelligence.

The two creative competitions for young children were first launched in 2020 for UK Robotics Week, now the UK Festival of Robotics – an annual seven-day celebration of robotics and intelligent systems. This annual celebration is hosted by the EPSRC UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems (UK-RAS) Network, which provides academic leadership in robotics and coordinates activities at over 30 partner universities across the UK.

For more information, details of prizes, judging criteria and to submit an entry, please visit

Both competitions are open for entry and will close for submissions on Sunday 24 April 2022. The winners will be announced at a special virtual award ceremony due to be held on Tuesday 21 June 2022.

For more details on the University of Sheffield AMRC's STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) activities, click here.

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