A responsible business

National Grid Chief Executive Steve Holliday with 'VEX Impact' - UK National Champions 2014 at the VEX Robotics Competition UK National Finals.

National Grid is an electricity and gas company that connects consumers to energy sources through its networks. The company is at the heart of one of the greatest challenges facing our society – to create new, sustainable energy solutions for the future and developing an energy system that underpins economic prosperity in the 21st century. National Grid holds a vital position at the centre of the energy system and it ‘joins everything up’.

Electricty Industry

They own and manage the grids that connect people to the energy they need and run systems that deliver electricity to millions of people, businesses and communities. National Grid play a vital role in delivering electricity efficiently, reliably and safely.

Gas Industry

All gas in the UK passes through National Grid’s national transmission system on its way to consumers. Their UK distribution networks deliver gas to around 10.9 million consumers.

why robotics?

National Grid’s sponsorship of the VEX Robotics competition is helping youngsters across the country discover the magic of engineering. Jonathan Richardson, Education and Skills Specialist, explains how it works and why it’s important.

Robotics has moved on from its futuristic sci-fi roots, but it still has the ability to capture the imagination of people of all ages. From driverless cars to drones and the ground-breaking robots we’re building at National Grid, the industry is making huge strides.

It’s an aspect of engineering that is packed with possibilities and innovation, and set to become one of the economy’s biggest growth areas in the next 20 years. For the UK to continue to compete on a global level, we need to make sure our youngsters are inspired by engineering and robotics and want to be a part of this exciting future.

For many young people, however, science and engineering still has an image problem. Some youngsters see science as dry, geeky or academic, while some see engineering as low-skilled and old-fashioned. Certain traditional methods of teaching probably encourage this stereotype.

WOW! Moment

For youngsters to really feel inspired, they need to get involved in the practical side of things and experience that life-changing ‘wow’ moment. Building robots is a great way of doing that.

It’s for all these reasons that we’re sponsoring, for the second year, the VEX Robotics competition, where young people aged 11 to 18 design and build robots that compete in regional, national and, if they’re outstanding, global competitions. It’s Robot Wars without the violence; Meccano with attitude.

VEX can help us meet these challenges by promoting STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) – the cornerstone of everything we do as engineers – and help inspire boys and girls to become the engineers of the future.

The beauty of VEX, and why I see so much value in it, is that it takes STEM subjects out of the classroom and puts them to the test in real-life situations. Teenagers who take part build lifelong skills in teamwork, leadership and communicating. National Grid is the UK’s only sponsor of the competition. We’re in illustrious company, with space-exploration pioneers NASA supporting the competition globally.

Inspiring Young People

Our sponsorship is about much more than just tagging on our logo and walking away. We primarily work with schools that are impacted by National Grid, in locations where we’re working. We donate robotics equipment and send volunteers into school to help inspire young people and give them a helping hand with their robots. VEX encompasses the full scope of engineering, from structural to programming, to power systems, electronics, sensors and beyond. And it does it in a unique, problem-solving way.