Success of Headstart for Sixth Formers continues
The Department’s Headstart course enabled sixth formers to meet and talk to University staff, postgraduate students and representatives from industry.
Inspiring site visits
A key highlight is the site visit, which is part of the Headstart programme. This year Lotus F1, Sharp Laboratories of Europe and UKAEA Fusion, Cullham Science Centre hosted three unique and enthralling experiences. This is what some sixth formers said:
Photo courtesy of Lotus F1"The trip to Lotus F1 headquarters was really enlightening. I was thinking about going into mechanical engineering but wasn’t really sure. After finding out about the designing, manufacturing and testing of vehicles, my mind is set on a career in F1” Aamanh, Year 12 student.
“My visit to a fusion reactor was really good. It was amazing to see how the concept actually works on an industrial scale after learning the basics at GCSE” Charlotte, Year 12 student.
“From pens to microwaves, LEDs to 3D technology, Sharp has inspired me to pursue a career in engineering” Brenda, Year 12 student.
Practical Problem Solving
Dr Douglas Hamilton, who has been Course Manager of the Department of Engineering Science’s Headstart courses since 1997, said: “We had 38 students, from all over the country, who quickly got to know each other within an hour or two of arriving and then with great enthusiasm tackled the wide range of engineering-based activities we offered them, including bridge-building, investigating and testing engines, testing a water turbine, robotics, computer-aided design, and building a solar-powered model car. They also had an industrial visit and talks from researchers in the Engineering Department. The overall feeling at the end of the course was of having had a thoroughly interesting time that was great fun as well.”
On their last night in Oxford, sixth formers enjoyed a three-course dinner at Hertford College, which was sponsored by Winton Capital Management. This provided sixth formers with the opportunity to mix socially in historical surroundings, and gain a sense of what life at the University would be like should they decide to study engineering science in Oxford.
Dr. William Cobern, who was a member of the Department for eight years (read MEng at Oriel College and then a DPhil in Biomedical Engineering ), is now a researcher with Winton Capital Management, one of the world’s largest hedge funds.
He delivered the after-dinner speech and said: “The Engineering course at Oxford is very varied, and you learn all of the basics before specialising in later years. If like me, you don’t feel ready to join the real world after completing your undergraduate degree, the research facilities here are world class. I spent four years on research to use mobile phones to help people with asthma and diabetes to manage their conditions. The truth is that the skills you learn in an engineering degree are highly prized by employers… in addition to specialist knowledge, an Engineering degree gives you advanced problem-solving skills and a pragmatic approach”.
The department relies on the goodwill of undergraduates and graduates to help with the smooth running of the Headstart programme. Pictured here are: Volunteers, Alexandra Floyd, Alice Vacani, Maria Higson and Ken Chatfield, together with David Carrier and Dr. William Cobern from Winton Capital Management, Dr Douglas Hamilton and Glynn Guest, Headstart Supervisor.
Our special thanks to Headstart, Winton Capital Management, Lotus F1, Sharp Laboratories of Europe, Culham Science Centre, and Hertford College, as well as to all volunteers, technicians and academics from the Department of Engineering Science who helped to make this year’s Headstart such a huge success.
On a final note…
“Coming to Oxford, I was apprehensive about the type of students I would meet on Headstart and how smart they all would be. However, having met some undergraduates and graduate students I was pleasantly surprised by how ‘normal’ and grounded they all were. I would definitely recommend taking part on a Headstart course” Year 12 student.