David Tomkins of A&M is pictured with Liam Fletcher from Shireland Collegiate Academy at the launch of the 2020 Express & Star STEM Challenge at Dudley College.

Among the schools taking part in this year's challenge is Shireland Collegiate Academy in Smethwick which has been partnered with Smethwick-based engineering firm A & M EDM.

Liam Fletcher, who is the school's head of design, said the pupils were looking forward to starting work. "It's a real-life challenge. It's exciting for the kids and it's gives them an insight into the world of industry that they wouldn't otherwise get," he added.

A&M Mentor and precision engineer David Tomkins said: "I never did anything like this when I was at school so it's great they have the chance to do this."

David is in final phase of completing his mechanical engineering HNC, he joined A&M as one of the company’s first apprentices in 2013.

David will mentor and support a team of six students, their product or prototype should be innovative, demonstrate application of science, technology, engineering and maths and have clear links to improving people's mental health or wellbeing.

They will also need to demonstrate their invention as a working model at the judging and awards day at the end of April where they will also be required to give a five-minute presentation and answer questions from the judges.