GWP has announced a new project to inspire the next generation of engineers and inventors.
The Cricklade-based packaging business has teamed up with 'cardboard ninja' Ben Edmonds, founder of Innovation Ben, who runs a weekly inventor club for young people 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 with 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 seven 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 has been working closely with the UTC (University Technical College) network, exploring ways to roll out the 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.
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.
GWP Group Managing Director Ruth Cook 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.