This paper describes an innovative, three-day, turbomachinery research project for Japanese and British high-school students. The project is structured using modern teaching theories that encourage student curiosity and creativity. The experience develops teamwork and communication and helps to break down the cultural and linguistic barriers between students from different countries and backgrounds. The approach provides a framework for other hands-on research projects that aim to inspire young students to undertake a career in engineering. The project is part of the Clifton Scientific Trust's annual UK–Japan Young Scientist Workshop Programme. This work focuses on compressor design for jet engines and gas turbines. It includes lectures introducing students to turbomachinery concepts, a computational design study of a compressor blade section, experimental tests with a low-speed cascade, and tutorials in data analysis and aerodynamic theory. The project also makes use of 3D printing technology, so that students go through the full engineering design process, from theory, through design, to practical experimental testing. Alongside the academic aims, students learn what it is like to study engineering at university, discover how to work effectively in a multinational team, and experience a real engineering problem. Despite a lack of background in fluid dynamics and the limited time available, the lab work and end-of-project presentation show how far young students can be stretched when they are motivated by an interesting problem.