Drives and Controls Magazine
Meet UK world water speed record attempt team at SM&E Week
Published:  03 June, 2024

The team behind a planned British attempt to break the world water speed record will be at this week’s Smart Manufacturing & Engineering (SM&E) Week to talk about the project and to launch a survey aimed at identifying recruitment challenges faced by UK manufacturers.

The Thrust WSH project is building on Richard Noble’s record-breaking endeavours, including the land speed record of 763 mph set by ThrustSSC in 1997. The team (which can be found on stand D60 in Hall 4 at the show) hopes to smash the current 317mph water speed record – set by an Australian team 1978 – on a Scottish loch in 2026.

The world water speed record has a history of extreme danger, and many failed attempts, which can be mitigated only by developing a high-technology designs from first principles. This makes it ideal for education purposes.

Thrust WSH is sharing live project data with schools, allowing students to engage with the engineering and physical performance aspects as the project progresses.

The survey being launched at the NEC aims to gather data that will shape the project’s education programme, ensuring that it addresses the skills gap and inspires the next generation of engineers to pursue careers in Stem-based disciplines. The survey results will be analysed by the University of Bradford and used to develop a ThrustWSH education programme that not only addresses these challenges, but also aims to inspire young minds to pursue Stem careers.

“The current generation, many educated by gaming, may represent the best recruitment opportunity the UK has ever had for its engineering and manufacturing sectors,” says Thrust Boat director, Richard Noble. “We learned from the Bloodhound Project that record-breaking attempts have extraordinary learning potential.

The Thrust WSH team hopes to set a new world speed record on water in 2026

“We know there are serious recruitment difficulties in the industry, and we want to help with a new education programme based on the incredibly difficult ThrustWSH project,” he adds. “But first, we all need to understand the current landscape, and this survey will help us do that.”

The survey hopes to uncover the root causes of the UK’s current skills shortage, with fewer young people choosing careers in manufacturing and engineering. This has led to an ageing workforce and significant problems recruiting and retaining staff.