Hundreds of UK teens honoured at national engineering awards

Professor Alan Kwan, deputy head of school at Cardiff University, with scholars Lequesha Gonsalves and Robert White
© 2018 Andrew Wiard

Almost 400 UK teens have been honoured by one of the UK’s leading engineering programmes.

Some 393 students – including a record-equalling 113 girls – achieved a coveted Arkwright Engineering Scholarship award as part of a drive to inspire future leaders in engineering.

The talented group, aged 16-17, were presented with their accolades at aerospace-themed ceremonies at the Institute of Engineering and Technology in London and the International Conference Centre in Edinburgh, supported by principal awards ceremony sponsors, the RAF.

Those honoured were handpicked from 1,600 hopefuls who applied for the scholarship in 2018 following a rigorous selection process, which assesses their academic, practical and leadership skills in engineering disciplines.

The awards were presented by RAF Group Captain Tony Keeling, Air Marshal Julian Young and Air Vice Marshal Ross Paterson.

Dr Kevin P Stenson, chief executive of the Smallpeice Trust, the UK’s leading national STEM education charity that runs the scholarships programme, said: “This year has seen an incredibly talented group of young people become scholars. We hope that this is the first step towards a successful and rewarding career in engineering.

“We are also immensely proud to see a large number of girls taking part in the programme. It is vital to the future of the UK engineering industry that we nurture these talented individuals to fulfil their potential as future leaders.”

Former scholar and STEM ambassador Khadijah Ismail, who gave presentations at the awards ceremonies, added: “Congratulations to all of the scholars who have made it this far. It is a wonderful achievement and thoroughly deserved.

“I loved every minute of my scholarship. It has opened a world of opportunities and possibilities to me. I now have a job as a degree apprentice aerospace engineer with BAE Systems. I have no doubt these young scholars have a very bright future ahead of them.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or your background, you can become anything you want to be if you are committed and work hard.”

Founded in 1991, the Arkwright Engineering Scholarships programme aims to identify, inspire and nurture future leaders in engineering. More than 150 organisations such as professional institutions, trade associations and schools support the programme.

Only the highest performing students from all educational backgrounds are selected following assessments including a two-hour aptitude exam and a university-based interview. Those who succeed receive academic and financial support during their studies.

As part of the scholarship, students gain access to a range of enrichment experiences such as conferences, Connect Days, mentoring, residential courses and university VIP days.

Since its inception, almost 5,400 young people have passed through the scholarship programme, including award-winning BBC presenter Steph McGovern, who forged a career at Black & Decker before moving into business journalism.

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