BAE apprentices to showcase innovation in Spain

Apprentices from BAE Systems’ military aircraft business in Samlesbury are heading to a prestigious technology exhibition in Spain with an award-winning gadget they developed to aid military personnel with hand-related injuries.

Exograb apprenticesGrace Atkinson, Adam Websdell, Joshua Barker, Sam Winter, Alicia Humphries, John Taylor and Sam Jones, engineered the gadget known as ‘Exograb’ when they formed a team to enter BAE Systems’ Apprentice Innovation Challenge, a bi-annual competition run with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

Exograb was developed using computer-aided design and produced using the latest 3D printing capabilities and a technique that straightens the arm of the patient to create a pincer movement.

The team has now been invited to the Innovation and New Technologies Exhibition being held in Spain this May after picking up three awards at the British Invention Show last year, the UK’s largest show for invention, innovation and technology.

They won two gold awards, one for the Exograb design and one for the team’s innovative thinking. They also picked up a double gold award for Invention of the Year in the consumer category. The team is continuing to develop the product to assess the potential for mass production.

Team member Sam Winter, from Preston, said: “Patients suffering hand related injuries would often be given litter pickers to help redevelop dexterity in their hands and fingers, but it wasn’t always effective. For example, patients can’t use a litter picker to pick up a glass of water.

Exograb"So we looked at these limitations and came up with Exograb, which works uniquely using the straightening of the arm movement to deliver effect. We’ve been overwhelmed by the response we’ve had so far and we’re excited about taking the product to Spain in May.”

Michael Christie, chief technologist for BAE Systems Military Air & Information, said: “The team behind Exograb has delivered something so simple yet so effective and it could have a real impact in the marketplace. It’s really important that we embrace talent and give people the opportunity to develop ideas like this. By encouraging new ideas we will continue to deliver innovation solutions for our customers. The BAE Systems Apprentice Innovation Challenge will be launched again this year in conjunction with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The Challenge will involve teams of apprentices develop ideas to help tackle problems faced by injured servicemen. This will be the first time that the competition is launched at the new Academy for Skills and Knowledge which was opened on 1 December 2016 at Samlesbury.