Hampstead teenager Sam Aleksander wins competition to improve new RAF jet

Sam Aleksander in front of his computer.

Sam Aleksander, who won a national competition to improve a fighter jet cockpit. - Credit: Air Cadets/Sam Aleksander

A Hampstead sixth-former has won a national competition with his design to improve the cockpit of a new fighter plane. 

Sixteen-year-old Sam Aleksander won the competition, promoted by BAE Systems and the RAF, for his innovative “Chroma Cockpit” scheme. 

The Chroma Cockpit uses colour psychology to enhance the pilot’s reaction times, and to help improve the pilot’s experience when flying the upcoming Tempest fighter plane.

RAF cadet Sam was inspired by his GCSE Design and Technology project, which used colour psychology to create safe spaces in his school. 

Sam attends More House School in Surrey and has severe dyslexia and auditory processing disorder.

He said: “I find it quite difficult to get my ideas down on paper and express myself, and I found that very hard during this challenge because […] I can't explain it to them [very well]. It shows that the ways you get around it, whatever you have, there’s always a way to get to the end goal and find a new solution.

Sam Aleksander in his RAF Air Cadet uniform

Sam Aleksander lives in Hampstead. - Credit: Air Cadets/Sam Aleksander

"I hope this shows other young people who might be struggling with dyslexia or facing other challenges to their learning, especially this past year, that if you put your mind to it, the sky is literally your limit.” 

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Sam found the project creatively challenging, too: “I thought, I can't come as anything new, because everything has already been thought about for the plane.”

He joked to his friends that all it was missing was a cup-holder - which made him think about how coffee decreases reaction times. He then had the thought that the colour red decreases reaction times, too - and realised he could use colour to improve the cockpit’s design. 

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His prize is a goody-bag from BAE Systems and a private tour around their base in Blackpool. 

Sam, who was in a bad mood before he received the good news, said: “[The email] said my name in bold with ‘winner’ next to it and my grumpy face turned into a really happy face.”

The teenager, who is a weekly boarder at More House which is the largest specialist school of its kind in the UK, was delighted with the chance to visit BAE Systems and see how manufacturing works there.