But what’s it like to be an Arkwright Scholar? Felix Murray is a 17-year-old A-level student at Hampton School in Greater London, who was awarded an ECT-funded scholarship in 2015. Here he gives his perspective.
“I heard about the Arkwright scholarships through school when I was in Year 8, and I remember telling myself I must apply when I reach that stage. Before I knew it, I was putting in the application and learning how to write a CV, and soon I was nervously taking the aptitude exam, and even more nervously, going to the interview. When I heard back that I had got a scholarship I was overjoyed.
I am taking A-levels this summer: maths, Further Maths, Physics and Design Technology. I’d love to do Engineering as a career – particularly Design Engineering. I’m aiming to go to Imperial College London, which runs one of the UK’s leading Design Engineering courses. The university describes it as ‘a fusion of design thinking with engineering knowledge and practice, within a culture of innovation and enterprise.’ This basically sums up what I want to do. My Mum describes it as a ‘course for inventors’!
I’m very creative and think outside the box, but I also enjoy the technical, mathematical and engineering aspect of design, so this course seems perfectly suited. I’m excited – university is such a great place to really get stuck into something you love!
I’ve always been a bit geeky and super enthusiastic about all things techie, but really it’s been encouragement and support from teachers and family, and being able to make things (and break things!) that has really developed my love for engineering and made me want to do it as a career.
That’s why I think the Arkwright Scholarship scheme is so excellent – it’s another stepping stone, both in encouragement and financial support, for students to follow what they love doing. The scholarship has really allowed me to extend my interests in Design Technology and Engineering, and has given me the motivation and ability through the funding to dream up opportunities to learn more.
One of the main ways I have done this is to buy resources to help develop my skills. For example, I have been very lucky to have access to amazing practical facilities at school, but until getting a scholarship, I hadn’t really explored electronics.
Since then, I have bought parts for, and built, a RepRap-style 3D printer. And I’ve used it for all sorts of things: making prototypes for my A-Level project, printing replacement parts for things that break at home, and even making Christmas decorations!
I think 3D printers are a fantastic emerging technology and will become accessible household devices in the future – they’re amazingly useful and fun. However, there’s no way I would have been able to discover 3D printing properly for myself without support from the Ernest Cook Trust.
As well as the 3D printer, I’ve had a steady stream of electronics components arriving at my house to go into various projects – I am learning to program, and am particularly interested in how products can interface intelligently with the user through a good mix of electronics, systems, and physical product design. I think this is something I’d like to continue looking at when I go university.
Also, I have made things like customisable controllers for my music production hobby, and am currently working on a loop pedal. Most recently I bought a Wacom drawing tablet so I can draw digitally straight into a computer.
At my school, Arkwright is pretty well known and highly regarded in the DT department. Given my experience, I’ve been helping prepare prospective Arkwright scholars for their selection process. I think it’s great for as many people to have this opportunity as possible.
Getting the scholarship has given me confidence in my ability as a budding engineer, and this really helped when applying for universities. I’ve really enjoyed being part of the scheme and I have tried to make the most of everything it has offered me.”
For more information on Arkwright Scholarships, see www.arkwright.org.uk/