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Engineering at Merchiston is available to junior and senior pupils through the activity programme and compliments the technology subjects of Computing Science, Design Technology, Design Engineering (A Level) and Electronics (GCSE).

In addition to the activities that run in the Autumn and Lent terms, your son is also able to enter various competitions and take advantage of courses outside school.

Arkwright Scholarship

The Arkwright Scholarship is the most prestigious Engineering Scholarship available in the UK. A rigorous selection process involving an on-line application, a written exam testing creativity and a formal interview exploring pupils' commitments beyond the curriculum allow 5th Form pupils to highlight their talents. The Arkwright Scholarship provides funding and support for the two years of the Sixth Form for pupils who plan to follow a career in Engineering. Merchiston has an outstanding record of presenting candidates for the Arkwright Scholarship and 7 boys have been successful in the last 5 years.

Engineering Education Scheme

The Engineering Education Scheme, run by the Engineering Development Trust (EDT), is the flagship competition for pupils in their Lower Sixth Form year. The scheme involves working with a local company over an extended period of time during the Autumn and Lent Terms to produce a working product, prototype or conceptual design. The teams are tasked with writing a significant project report and presenting their conclusions to a panel of industry experts at the Celebration and Assessment Day. Every year the teams have gained a huge amount of experience from their participation.

Scheme details available here.

Read more about the Engineering Education Scheme.

Team Projects


Team: Brodan, Han, Hector, Nikos and Robert

Sponsor: Leonardo

Overview: To develop a small scale portable radar system. The team chose to use a LIDAR based system and manufactured a bespoke motor driver board to allow a 360° sweep. The whole system was battery powered and connected via a USB interface to a laptop or PC. The software used to run the radar allowed users to map out and monitor an outdoor area up to 50m in diameter.

Outcome: Highly commended by the judges for the technical competence demonstrated

Report: 2019 (pdf)


Team: Axel, Ben, Charlie, Doheon, Sean and Stuart
Sponsor: Leonardo
Overview: The project was to build a wireless security system that could be deployed to secure a room or area on a temporary basis with little or no prior installation. The project developed a range of autonomous security sensors that could allow a room to be remotely monitored through a web browser or via an App.
Outcome: Winners of the Industry Award
Report: 2018 (pdf)


Team: Brian, Craig, Edward, Rory and Sean
Sponsor: Leonardo
Overview: The project was to build a working demonstration radar. The finished project used ultrasound to scan the room, with position being provided by a 2-axis servo arrangement. The project ran its own hotspot enabling any device to connect to the onboard webserver and learn how each part of the radar functioned.
Outcome: 2nd Place
Report: 2017 (pdf) 


Team: Aaron, Alasdair, Angus, Dave and Imhotep
Sponsor: Leonardo
Overview: To build an autonomous rover that could traverse rough terrain and find its way to a predetermined spot. The final project was a custom made rover with a Raspberry Pi using odometers on the wheels to measure how far it had gone. The rover worked beautifully in testing, however, it overloaded the Pi on the day of the final assessment!
Outcome: Runner Up
Report: 2016 (pdf) 


Team: Colm, Felix, Joshua and Kevin
Sponsor: Selex ES
Overview: TARS worked out very well and developed a few side projects too. The radar module was developed as an Arduino shield and attracted attention at the Edinburgh Maker Faire. The final project used a camera to capture details of speeding motorists and communicated via internet to alert site security.
Outcome: 2nd Place in EES. Accepted as an entry for the National Science and Engineering Big Bang Fair in Birmingham. Made it through to the finals in the Senior Engineering category and placed 3rd Nationally.


Team: Caelan, Cameron, Charles, Karsten and Seumas
Sponsor: Selex ES
Overview: Gluing lenses in place on high power laser systems was the challenge for the team. The prototype used a series of different mechanical systems and an Arduino control system. The most popular demonstration at the assessment day was the Lego model of the prototype.
Report: 2014 (pdf) 


Team: Andrew, Cameron, Drummond, David and Tom
Sponsor: The University of Edinburgh
Overview: The project aimed to test the efficiency of solar cells by making a realistic spectrum model of sunlight and then data-logging the performance of the solar cell. This was a really well engineered project getting close to being a viable test system. The Arduino based data logger and bespoke electronics impressed the judges.
Outcome: 2nd Place in the EES, 1st at the Scottish Big Bang Fair. Exhibited at the National Science and Engineering Competition in Birmingham.
Report:  2013 (pdf)


Team: August, Ben, Jonny, Matthew and Will
Sponsor: The University of Edinburgh
Overview: At first this was a daunting project but the team made great progress and managed to get a circuit to respond to their muscle flex. What followed was a very nice piece of bespoke electronics and a proof of concept lego hand. To support the project the team created a project website freely sharing their findings.
Outcome: 1st Place in EES. 1st Place in Big Bang Fair Scotland. Exhibited at National Science and Engineering fair, London and won the Royal Academy of Engineering Prize.
Report: 2012 (pdf)
The project website can be found here: Website


Team: Angus, Jamie, Rupert, Ryan
Sponsor: The University of Edinburgh
Overview: The team was tasked with harvesting energy from the everyday movements of the human body. The solution involved induction generators and strain gauges used throughout the day to produce enough power to charge super-capacitors.
Report: 2011 (pdf) 


Team: Alasdair, Bobak, Chips and Sam
Sponsor: Selex
Overview: The outcome of the project was a buggy that followed a laser beam. The application was a proof of concept for a battlefield robot that could be directed using a laser beam. The project worked really well in the lab and was good fun to develop.
Report: 2010 (pdf)


Team: Campbell, Craig, Tom and Scott
Sponsor: Napier University
Overview: This project marked Merchiston’s return to the EES after the scheme was relaunched in Scotland. The challenge was to make a system capable of measuring the actual useful power output of a solar panel rather than its carefully measured specification. The team chose to datalog the task of pumping water to see how useful a particular panel actual was.
Outcome: 2nd Place in EES finals.
Report: 2009 (pdf)

Rampaging Chariots

The Rampaging Chariots competition is fun … and very challenging. Each year the boys in Shell who study Electronics are given the opportunity to build a competition robot from a kit. The robots can be upgraded, and often are, before competing in the Scottish Robotic Games hosted at Leonardo, Edinburgh.

In the 2016/17 Academic Year, Merchiston was one of four schools selected to trial the new autonomous upgrade kit which, it was hoped, would allow the chariot to navigate the assault course unaided. This turned out to be a seriously challenging undertaking but the team managed to make a working upgrade and completed half of the assault course before going wrong. However, this was enough to take the first ever Autonomous trophy. Since then the team has continued to work with the project developers and plan to do so as they move to university.

Read more about The Rampaging Chariots here

Year In Industry

The Year in Industry (YinI) Scheme allows students to use their gap year to work for an Engineering company as an apprentice employee complete with full salary, management training course, advanced maths course and the chance to complete an independent project. The Year in Industry Scheme is a fantastic opportunity for our students and is promoted as an alternative gap year for those entering the Engineering profession.

The application process is very competitive and Merchiston has supported several successful candidates over the last few years working for the likes of ScotRail and Scottish Power.

See here for full details


Headstart is an opportunity for students to spend a week at the end of the Summer Term at a top university experiencing life as an Engineering student. Places are highly competitive and students have to demonstrate a high level of ability and commitment to be offered the opportunity.

Every year we support the applications of our ambitious students, and Merchiston is proud to have had students attend Headstart courses every summer for the last decade or longer.

Find out more about Headstart