Article - Issue 32, September 2007

Inspiring Future Engineers

Penny Tysoe

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Engineering offers a variety of career options and can be rewarding both intellectually and financially. The Academy has a programme of extra-curricular activities that enables youngsters to get a taste of this at school, before making important subject choices. Penny Tysoe provides a snapshot of some of the Best Programme schemes run by the Engineering Development Trust.

A Focus course on automotive engineering – part of the Headstart course at the University of Sussex

A Focus course on automotive engineering – part of the Headstart course at the University of Sussex

The Engineering Development Trust (EDT) administers four of the Academy’s Best Programme schemes: Go4SET, Engineering Education Scheme (England), Headstart and The Year in Industry (YinI). Annually the EDT involves over 4,000 students and aims to provide them with real-life exposure to industry, reveal the potential career opportunities available, and to provide the inspiration and motivation needed to continue on a career path in science, engineering and technology.

Engineering Education Scheme (England)

Alan Curtis is one of over 19,000 students to have taken part in the EESE programme since it began over 21 years ago. Like many Year 12 (16-17 year old) students, Alan’s perception of engineering before he took part was vague – he saw it as a world of “dirty overalls and spanners.” By the end of the scheme, Alan had gained experience within an engineering company and had made up his mind to apply to study mechanical engineering.

On the EESE scheme, four students from a school form a team and, with the support of their teacher, work with a local company on real scientific, engineering and technological problems. JCB were assigned to support Alan and his team mates for six months and helped to encourage the students to show industrial enterprise, creativity and innovation.

As a result of the scheme, Alan, like many other participants, was able to find sponsorship for his university degree from his EESE supporting company. In Alan’s case, this meant that during his summer holidays and placement year he was able to work in at a variety of JCB plants in a variety of roles. After this, Alan graduated from Loughborough University and went straight into the position

of research engineer within JCB Power Systems where he worked with the engine which powered the JCB Dieselmax vehicle to a new world diesel land speed record of more than 350mph in 2006.


This is a summer course targeted at Year 12 students who have an aptitude for maths or science and have the potential to succeed in technology-based industries. Participating students are given the chance to experience a week in one of 30 UK universities during the summer holidays. The courses give prospective students the opportunity to take part in the types of activities, lectures and presentations that are associated with degree courses.

Helen Randell, after taking part in two EDT schemes (Headstart in 2003/04 and YinI in her gap year), became convinced that engineering is a diverse, exciting and challenging career choice which she wanted to be a part of. She subsequently went on to study engineering at the University of Cambridge.

Headstart also runs general science courses and a range of specialist Focus courses which concentrate on a single discipline. In addition to this, they run Dragonfly, Spectrum, and First Edition modules which are aimed specifically at girls, youngsters from ethnic minorities and 12/13 year old school students.

The Year in Industry

The EDT programme does not confine itself solely to school students. YinI provides paid, degree-relevant work placements for students in their year out before or during their degree course.

Helen Randell took up a place on this scheme and was given the chance to work as a Projects Engineering Technician at East Midlands Airport. Here, she was charged with extending the existing fire training rig so that the airport fire crew would have an expanded replica of the larger-scale planes that the airport was planning to operate.

After consultation with the Airport Fire Service and Simulation, Helen liaised with the airport’s environmental team, sent out the civil work specification, created and gained approval of the budget for the project. She then provided the civil contractor with plans of the 10m extension and planned a time scale to go with them, to ensure that the project finished on schedule.

As with all YinI, Helen became an integral part of the team and her efforts helped deliver results that provided significant benefits to East Midlands Airport – both in increased capacity for the airport and improved safety of passengers.


Go4SET is a new, work-related, applied-learning programme which links teams of six Year 9/S2 (age 13 to 14) pupils and their teacher with a local company to offer a 10 week Science, Engineering and Technology experience. As part of the project, pupils experience lessons in industrial enterprise, team working, project management and communication/presentation in a real business environment.

BP is lead sponsor of the programme. Ian Duffy, BP’s business advisor in Social and Community Affairs, believes that Go4SET fits with BP’s engineering education priorities by inspiring and motivating the next generation of young engineers and scientists and involving BP’s own technologists and engineers in this process. Through this, Ian says, students are given “the opportunity to investigate real industrial issues and to develop innovative solutions.”

EDT schemes

The main aim of the EDT schemes is to encourage young people to fulfil their potential through careers in engineering, science and technology. In targeting Years 9, 12 and 13, gap year students and undergraduates, the EDT schemes seek to inspire and motivate these individuals and influence their future career choices whilst enhancing their technical and employment skills. Support is provided for EDT and other Best Programme schemes from companies that include Astra Zeneca, BP, Centrica, Ford, GKN, National Grid, Rolls-Royce, QinetiQ and Shell.

From a teacher’s point of view, the benefits have been impressive. Peter Crompton, a teacher at Fortismere School in London, says that his pupils’ involvement in EDT has resulted in their “considerable personal development, honing the essential life-skills of teamwork, problem-solving, creativity and innovation.” He also says that from a personal point of view, the experience of working in tandem with business has allowed him to gain a better understanding of what is expected of his pupils in later life. Nearly 50,000 students have taken part in EDT schemes since the programmes began 21 years ago and it is hoped that every one has gained the type of experience that Peter Crompton speaks of.

Biography: Penny Tysoe

Penny Tysoe is the Marketing and Communications Manager for the Engineering Development Trust and is based in their Welwyn Garden City Office.

Further reference

For more information about the Academy’s Best Programme, including all the EDT schemes, visit:

The Best Programme




The Year in Industry

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