In December 2018, Grace and I decided to put our mechanical and design skills to the test and apply for an Arkwright Scholarship - a prestigious engineering scholarship for 15-16 year olds who currently take STEM subjects and want to pursue a career within the sector. I have a keen interest in Computer Science and Design & Technology – in fact I have been programming games since the age of eight and am a ‘bricoleur’. The Arkwright Scholarship is the perfect opportunity for me to explore these skills further in an industry-level environment and meet like-minded individuals with whom I can flourish.
The application process consisted of a detailed personal statement, in which we had to discuss our interests, achievements and future aspirations, and an in-depth description of a project of our own creation which showcased our engineering skills. After successful applications, we were invited to go to an interview. These take place countrywide and ours were held at Brunel University. One of the two interviewers was from the engineering field and it felt quite daunting at first, but I soon found out there wasn’t anything to worry about – much of my interview consisted of discussing women in industry.
We also had to take along a project to demonstrate our engineering skills, and both Grace and I chose to bring our Design & Technology GCSE projects to discuss. Mine, ‘The Little Linguist’, is a product developed under the set context, Social Interaction. It is a toy that enables audibly impaired children to interact with other children in an entertaining and educational way and aims to promote the learning of American Sign Language (ASL). Grace’s project, ‘Cloud Finder’, is a product developed under the set context Smarter Living. It enables parents to track their children if they get lost and includes a wristband, which contains the tracking device, and a cloud-shaped hub which is manufactured from colour-changing smart materials.
After the interview, we took part in a group activity about bridge building. This helped us bond with the other people there and got rid of the adrenaline that had been building up! In the afternoon, we were given a tour of the university and listened to a talk about choosing universities. Overall, it was a really enjoyable day.
We both impressed the experts conducting our interviews and we are now officially Arkwright Scholars! Now that we have received the scholarships, we will be paired with a mentor in September, which can range from universities to companies. The whole process was very smooth and I would highly recommend anyone thinking of engineering to apply as it can give you a gateway into a tough industry. We are now very excited about the next steps!
Milan, Year 11