Choosing Engineering

24th July 2018

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“We are putting together a test piece for a beam and testing it for strength” explained Don and Jay, state school students from Bristol and Leicester, taking part Wadham’s UNIQ Engineering Summer School.

Having attended a theory lecture they were using their experience of Maths and Physics to work out the shape of each section for their bridge, selecting their materials and building the test version of their bridge using a variety of machines to bend, cut and rivet the sections.  

Don and Jay, who had independently found out about the week-long Engineering Summer School through Google searches, were thoroughly enjoying the experience, along with 46 other school students ably assisted by Oxford student mentors.

Mentor, Rosie from University College, went to a state comprehensive school in Bedfordshire and came on the UNIQ programme herself before applying to Oxford. “After a week in Oxford I was 85% sure I would apply to study here – I did not realise I might have a chance of getting in to Oxford before I came on the UNIQ programme. I am massively enjoying it, particularly the thermo fluid modules. I can’t work out whether I was more excited as a participant or a mentor at the Summer School!”

I was not considering Oxford before this week but the ambassadors have been so helpful – they make me feel like I can succeed.

Connie, from Essex

Mentor, Nikita from New College, now at the end of her first year in Engineering, chose the subject because she wanted to do “something ‘Mathsy’ but with practical application.”

“I want more people from my sort of background to come here,” was how she described her motivation for helping at the Summer School. 

"We are learning so many things we have not done before over a short period of time so it is quite overwhelming but in a good way – challenging but manageable,” said participant Deavin. At school we are spoon fed, but here we are being encouraged to try for ourselves – they give us the principles and we ask the questions.”

“I am confident that we are building the strongest bridge” said his work partner Tim. Both boys agreed that the breakfasts at Wadham, where they are staying for the week, are fantastic.

Connie, from near Southend in Essex, was working on the ratios of her final bridge. She commented: “I was not considering Oxford before this week but the ambassadors have been so helpful – they make me feel like I can succeed.”

Getting hands-on experience and making sure that Engineering was the right choice for them was the motivation behind participation in the programme by Amrit from Slough and Amy from Buckinghamshire. They were finding the learning of a new a programming language challenging but their robotic car was making good progress around the track and they had taught it to avoid collisions.

Over the course of the week, The Year 12 students, aged 17, experienced first-hand how their knowledge of Mathematics and Physics can be applied to specific projects. From driverless cars and ink jet printing to tidal turbines and novel wireless communication techniques, the students were exposed to the breadth of possibilities that a degree, and career, in Engineering can offer.

They also participated in a formal dinner at Wadham meeting alumni engineers and hearing where their studies might take them.

Wadham’s Tutor in Engineering, Alfonso Castrejón-Pita commented: “It was such a pleasure to welcome Wadham alumni Engineers back to Wadham to share their experiences with this enthusiastic summer school group. It is thanks to the generosity of Wadham Engineering alumni that we are able to run this popular Engineering Summer School. The experience is invaluable for these students in deciding whether Oxford is the place for them.”

Wadham's Engineering summer school is part of its Access to Excellence programme.

Thank you!

Wadham would like to thank the following alumni for helping to inspire this group of summer school students:

Bill Andrew (Engineering, 1979) – Royal HaskoningDHV; Warren East CBE (Engineering, 1980) – Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce; Amanda East (Engineering, 1981); Erol Mustafa (Engineering, 1985) – Ernst & Young LLP; Richard Standen (Engineering, 1988) – GlaxoSmithKline; Pete Mason (Engineering, Economics and Management, 1994) – Barclays Investment Bank; Rasha Al-Lamee (Medicine, 1996) – Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust; Wing Commander Andrew Mitchell (Engineering, 1998) – RAF; Catherine Dunford (Engineering, Economics and Management, 2000) - Costain Ltd; Rebecca Grady (Engineering, 2009) – Ramboll