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Engineering interest

14 July 2010

Professor John Miles demonstrates the Formula Student racing car to Ashanti Heath

Schoolchildren had their eyes opened to a world of new possibilities on a recent tour of Cardiff School of Engineering.

Pupils from Cwrt Sart School, Neath and Fitzalan High School, Cardiff were shown many of the School’s facilities and were given some practical experience solving problems.

Cardiff University is extremely active in the national drive to encourage pupils into higher education from areas where there is not much tradition of university access. The visit to the School of Engineering, co-ordinated in association with Dr Ian Jones of the School of Social Sciences, aimed to get the children thinking about University and engineering as options for their future. A number of parents were also attended and enjoyed discussing how they could encourage and support their child in aiming for university education.

After an initial introduction to engineering, the programme involved checking out the Formula Student racing car, designed, built and raced by School students. They also inspected the School’s model of the Severn Barrage.

One of the pupils, Luthfan Nessa, of year 9, Fitzalan High School, said: "This was a fantastic opportunity as we were taken around the University and shown what goes on. The facilities were great and there were far more opportunities than we expected. The workshops were fun and challenging, especially the exercise that challenged us to design ways of dropping eggs from a balcony without smashing them. We took part in an activity which looked at testing the strength of concretes used in construction."

Professor John Miles, Head of the School’s Institute of Computational Engineering, who hosted the visit, said: "This was a very rewarding day – both for the pupils and those members of the University who met them. They were very responsive and enthusiastic and I think many of them saw aspects to engineering which they were not previously aware of.

"These are talented children who deserve every support in reaching higher education and the life-changing opportunities it can offer. We hope that days like this can inspire pupils from all backgrounds to take up engineering and add to the nation’s skills base."

This visit was part of a wider project run by the School of Social Sciences and funded by Beacon for Wales. Pupils on the scheme have already written and produced a newscast in the TV studio in the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, and conducted one-to-one interviews with Professors in the School of Social Sciences.