A team of young people from Didcot Sixth Form College are set for a challenging six months having committed to working on a space based science and engineering project with Oxford Space Systems and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) as part of the Engineering Education Scheme (EES) run by education charity EDT.
Didcot Sixth Form College have taken part in EES for over 20 years working with a number of different companies over the period. The work with Oxford Space Systems promises however to be an “out of this world” experience as the students help work on a satellite project commissioned by the European Space Agency. The Didcot team comprises Oliver Copping, Jordan Lunnon, Jordan Montgomery, Lewis Pommels, Jack Bourman, and Amy Taylor Wright. All the students are in their first year of sixth form and have been set the challenge of exploring different ways to unfurl communications antennas for the satellite project by building and testing a number of prototypes.
The project starts at a launch event at the Science and Technology Facilities Council in Didcot on the 10th October but in some ways the road the students are taking is well-travelled, as EDT Director South East Gennie Franklin explains;
“In undertaking EES this year the team from Didcot are part of the 30th anniversary celebrations for EES which is the longest running business/education linking project in the UK and still represents the benchmark for what such linking should be seeking to achieve. Over the years more than 30,000 young people aged 16/17 have taken part in EES and our research shows that the overwhelming majority of them have gone on to have careers in science, engineering or technology.”
As they undertake the task the Didcot students will be mentored by employees from Oxford Space Systems, their partner company in the project Harwell based RAL Space, and mentors from the Science and Technology Facilities Council who have worked closely with EDT on EES projects for well over 10 years.
Mentor Mike Lawton from Oxford Space Systems says: “The UK needs to inspire its next generation of engineers and scientists to ensure we stay at the forefront of the world-beating research we’re known for globally. There’s no better to do this than giving students exposure to exciting, real-world challenges. They learn that most solutions are a compromise between conflicting factors and there’s real satisfaction in getting something that works that achieves a good balance. Inspiring students to solve real-world problems, with the chance that their work might just make it out into the world, or in our case – into space – will give them a real buzz and hopefully we’ll spot our next star engineer amongst them.”
Teacher Andy Leech from Didcot 6th Form College says: ‘I have been involved in the EES for several years now and I have seen every student who takes part develop high level communication skills as a result. I have reports from students who have gained university, apprenticeship and job opportunities as a direct result of having taken part in the EES. It is a great scheme and prepares students well for the rigors of a working life and shows them how their academic studies are applied to the wider world. I will continue to encourage students to take part in this scheme as I believe very strongly in its high value both to them and the companies who contribute. I look forward to this year’s challenges.’