On Friday 19th November, over 100 students from across Oxfordshire and beyond attended a careers day that focused on the wide range of exciting opportunities that exist for engineers in the UK.
The pupils, who came from a variety of schools including Banbury School, Henley College, St Birinus in Didcot, Lord Williams’s School in Thame, and The Marlborough College in Woodstock, spent the day at Diamond Light Source, the UK’s national synchrotron science facility. The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) supported the event.
Joe Bishop, David Peace and Liam Marks from Banbury School, and Ferhan Hussain from Uxbridge College, proudly showing off the robot that they programmed to carry out simple manoeuvres during the workshop put together by RAL Space.
During the day, students were able to participate in hands on activities and see around the giant X-ray machine, which enables scientists to study things at the molecular and atomic level and has a team of 50 engineers working to make this cutting edge research happen.
“We’ve brought our students along today to show them how their academic studies relate to the different fields in engineering. It’s a massive sector with huge relevance to our future. Today has given the students a real insight to the world of engineering and a taster to see how they could play a part in the action. The interactive nature of the tasks also helped them to work well together with the pupils from different schools.”
Nicky Stallwood, a teacher from Lord Williams’s School in Thame, Oxfordshire
Different aspects of engineering were explored during the Engineering Your Future day and practical, interactive sessions were led by enthusiastic engineers from the Royal Air Force, RAL Space at the STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Fugro GeoConsulting and Culham Centre for Fusion Energy.
Paul Jepson (pictured left), a student from St Birinus School in Didcot explained what they had to do in the RAF workshop. He said:“Our challenge was to safely light all eight bulbs on the mini helipad. It was good because we weren’t given a long list of instructions of what to do, we were just given a few hints and had to work it out for ourselves. I’m hoping to get onto the apprenticeship scheme at Culham. My brother’s two years into it and my dad also did an engineering apprenticeship before his current job at the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority [UKAEA] at Harwell, so it runs in the family.”
As well as trying their hand at working out the electronics for an RAF helipad, students were able to have a go at designing and building the foundations to support an offshore windmill that could withstand various load resistance capacities, courtesy of Wallingford company Fugro GeoConsulting Ltd who provide consulting for the offshore oil and gas industry; try out controlling a prototype space robot to get an idea of what it’s like to control the robots that are used in missions to the Moon or to Mars where they can be used to detect important data about where they have landed; and learn about the challenges involved in building a ‘star machine’ like the JET fusion facility at Culham before testing their knowledge in a ‘Who wants to be a Fusion Engineer?’ quiz.
Timo Gaultney (pictured right), from Lord Williams’s School in Thame enjoyed the task set by Fugro GeoConsulting Ltd. He said:“It’s quite a different thing to do. We don’t usually think about how to design a wind turbine but it has been really fun – a great opportunity to be creative. I’m definitely considering a career in engineering because I like that you get to come up with lots of different ideas and solutions to a problem to figure out which works best.”
Banbury College student Liam Marks had fun in the space robotics workshop. He said:“I’ve really enjoyed this task. I thought we’d be controlling the robots by remote control so it was interesting to learn how to programme its movements with a computer. It was quite challenging to get it right. But we managed to get it to move in the right direction and we won our robot race so we were really pleased. I’d definitely like to pursue a career in engineering. Even more so after today.”
Stewart Scott, a Senior Mechanical Project Engineer at Diamond, helped to organise the day’s events. He said: “It has been a fantastic day full of interesting and challenging tasks for the students. We have had lots of really positive feedback from both the pupils and teachers. It is important to give young people an opportunity to get a better understanding of what kind of exciting career opportunities are out there in the field of engineering. At Diamond, we have over 20 different engineering related professions. We were very happy to give the students the chance to spend a day with professionals who work on different aspects of engineering so that they could see for themselves how vital engineering is to many different industries.”
“The Institutions remain committed to ensuring that the best students are attracted into these essential professions and I congratulate all the participating organisations and companies for delivering such a successful event and giving more young people the opportunity to consider the exciting realities of joining this vibrant industry.”
John Laverty, Director of ICE South East England
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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