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The Emma Wiggs Challenge

The Emma Wiggs Challenge is a competition hosted exclusively by OAS, putting the engineering and design skills of our apprentices to the test with the opportunity to meet, work with, and learn from, double Paralympic Champion Emma Wiggs MBE.

In small teams, our first year apprentices have been tasked with working on a new design concept that can help Emma and other wheelchair users in their day-to-day lives and showcase some of the benefits of design engineering to help others.

Who is Emma Wiggs MBE?

Emma Wiggs is a 10-time World Champion paracanoeist and double Paralympic Champion who has won gold medals at both the Rio and Tokyo Paralympics.

She competes in the women’s 200m KL2 and VL2 classes and is one of the UK’s most decorated Paralympians having taken up paracanoeing after the London Games in 2012. 

Since a mystery virus impaired mobility in her legs aged just 18, Emma has fought her way to the top, dedicating herself to her sport and inspiring people along the way, as she shows just what is possible with a positive mindset and the determination to be the best that you can be in your chosen field. 

As she continues to train to compete at Paris 2024, we are delighted and proud that Emma has agreed to work with OAS and our apprentices as we launch the Emma Wiggs Challenge!

What is the Emma Wiggs Challenge?

Having previously tasked OAS’s training provider, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), to design a bespoke canoe paddle which helped her achieve gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Emma Wiggs has presented a fresh challenge to OAS apprentices.

The competition kicked off with a visit to OAS from Emma where she shared her inspiring story of how she has become one of the UK’s most successful Paralympians of all time, explaining to our apprentices some of the everyday challenges she continues to face as a wheelchair user.

Apprentices have formed small teams to work on a new design concept that can help Emma, and other people with disabilities, in their day-to-day lives.  

Teams will present their concepts and ideas back to Emma and our judging panel in June, as they near the end of  their first year with OAS.

To support the work of the teams, Emma will host two virtual workshops over the course of the challenge, enabling each team to ask questions and refine plans as design concepts develop and finalise. 

On the Finals Day, each team will have the opportunity to pitch to a group of judges, including a senior MTC engineer, an OAS trainer, and Emma Wiggs herself. The entries will be judged on a series of criteria including innovation, creativity and the level of research undertaken, the usefulness of the problem it solves and its potential to be produced.

The winners will be hosted by Emma at the National Water Sports Centre (Holme Pierrepont) in Nottingham to visit the home of British Canoeing and meet with Emma as she tours them around the facilities with the winners invited to spend the day paddle boarding and kayaking.