The day started off with a brainstorm of what we thought engineering was, and our instinctive ideas on how to tackle problems, such as ‘How to stop a car from speeding around bends in the road’, and ‘How to increase visibility of oncoming traffic’. The questions demanded the consideration of safety, reliability, accuracy and more. This got our brains fired up for the day ahead, putting the role of and engineer into perspective.
My group’s first activity involved a short quiz to found out what kind of person we were. The options included: investigator, persuader, communicator, entrepreneur and manager. We were each given badges of our top two results, and were encouraged to explore which jobs might suit our interests and personality traits, opening up options besides engineering. I thought this was a fun way to inspire people my age to see what might be open to them and seek a profession that they will enjoy now, and for many years to come.
Next we were given the task of creating a display of flashing LED lights on a circuit board, to use as a decoration. In preparation, we were taught how to use formulae and apparatus to measure the time taken for capacitors to reach a certain voltage, and how this would effect the speed at which our lights flashed. We discovered the relationship between capacitors, resistors and and integrated circuit, before assembling our devices, and having the opportunity to decorate them with pipe cleaners and glitter! This activity demonstrated how the knowledge of physics aids engineers and how it is vital in the work they do.
After a generous lunch break, we were escorted to one of the computer labs, where we were going to use a Computer Aided Design software, in order to build a rotor. There was a short demonstration by one of the tutors, which made the whole thing look very easy. When is came to trying this out ourselves, it took a lot of getting use to. While managing to do the majority of the work ourselves, I think it is fair to say we would not have gotten through it if it weren’t for the help of our excellent tutors and the older Headstart pupils. With some of us having finished with time to spare, we were given the treat of creating our own key-ring design to be printed by a 3D printer, which we could then take home. Personally, this was the highlight of the day. Being a fairly artistic person, I enjoyed the fusion of the creativity of design, and the reliability of maths and physics, and I think that’s what being an engineer is all about; being able to think inventively to solve problems, but managing to execute those ideas with the utmost precision.
It was a truly amazing experience, which sparked in me a greater passion for engineering, and I loved every aspect of it. I was lucky enough to be given such an opportunity, and I hope those of you reading this will be inspired to take a course like this, to widen horizons and just have fun.