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Ben holding in-person STEM workshops at local schools

Packaging firm GWP partners with “cardboard ninja” to introduce engineering to kids

Wiltshire-based packaging business GWP has teamed up with a ‘cardboard ninja’ to inspire the next generation of engineers and inventors.
Ben Edmonds, the founder of Innovation Ben, runs a weekly inventor club for kids online, and visits schools throughout the UK to help with STEM-related activities.

Having seen a significant increase in interest in his classes, Ben found himself using a growing amount of corrugated cardboard. GWP has since stepped in to sponsor Ben’s workshops and courses by providing the materials he uses.

Ben, who is also a principal engineer at Dyson, said: “I have been running my workshops since 2017 and began to provide more online classes during the pandemic. But as the number of sessions has grown, I have found myself using more and more cardboard material.

“I have worked with GWP as part of Dyson for several years, so I was keen to get them on board. When I approached them, they were eager to help.

“GWP’s way of working, thought processes and products align perfectly with what I am trying to achieve. I’m delighted that we have the opportunity to inspire future generations of world changers through a mutual love of cardboard.”

Offering a mixture of in-person workshops and online classes, Innovation Ben provides engineering and STEM workshops in schools across the UK every week.

Although sessions are generally aimed at young people aged between 7 and 17, he has recently been working with students at The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology, Gloucestershire University, Lund University in Sweden and even taught a group of retirees Computer-Aided Design.

Ben is also passionate about inspiring children and groups who may not normally consider STEM subjects to get involved with his classes.

“The perception of engineering is that it is something of a male-dominated industry. As a dad of three girls, this is something I find incredibly frustrating – we are effectively losing half of the potential future engineers before they have a chance to develop a love for it.”

Ben has been working closely with the UTC (University Technical College) network, exploring ways to roll out inventor club across their 48 schools and using them as a centre of excellence to inspire local primary-aged children into STEM activities. They are currently looking for a sponsor to help pilot the project before expanding further.

Besides this, Ben is currently working with Westonbirt’s international summer language school leading their STEM programme and is launching a global DT innovation competition in partnership with Doha College and COBIS that will reach over 280 schools worldwide. He recently ran his first online Inventor Club with a group of students in Hong Kong.

GWP itself has a strong history of working with students at local schools and colleges. The company, which is part of Macfarlane Group, the UK’s largest protective packaging distributor, set an engineering challenge for students to create handling trays for use at Swindon Foodbank (which were manufactured and are still in use today).

GWP has also hosted site visits from UTC Swindon students, alongside art projects involving primary and college-aged pupils.

Ruth Cook, managing director of Cricklade- and Salisbury-based GWP Group, said: “We have noticed a real lack of suitable candidates when recruiting for engineering and design-type roles as a business. Getting children not only involved with, but excited about, STEM and design subjects is crucial to avoiding a looming skills gap – and the work Ben is doing will make a big difference.

“Ben’s enthusiasm and passion for inspiring the next generation of engineers and inventors shines through. So, when he approached us, we were delighted to be able to help.”

GWP employs over 100 people, including an extensive design team. The company has taken an engineering approach to creating and manufacturing a wide range of bespoke packaging products across its 30-plus years in business.