First steps into engineering

lan McMath

Engineering remains one of the most popular course at sixth form colleges around the UK.

Although the number of school leavers who choose engineering as a subject for further education has
remained static over the past ten years, engineering steadfastly remains one of the top ten choices as sixth form colleges around the UK. Enrolments at Alton Community College, in Hampshire, are typical and reflect the most popular career routes chosen by students.
"It is most often the case that young people who take an interest in engineering as a career do so because a parent or relative works already in industry," says Steve MacCormack Learning Resources and ILT Manager at Alton College. Every year over the past three years around 20 students have taken up Advanced Level Engineering courses at the college. The good news is that all these students have either found a job or have gone on to university In the period 1998- 2001 the top 10 most popular Higher education subject choices of Alton College UCAS applicants were:

                                                                          No. of Students
Business and Management                                             236
Computer Science and Engineering                                 77
Psychology                                                                    77
Art & Design                                                                 75
Mathematics & Statistics                                                64
English                                                                           62
Sports Science/studies                                                   60
Media Studies                                                               57
Teacher Training                                                           55
Law                                                                              47

As can be seen around three times as many student choose to study Business and Management while Engineering, Psychology and An & Design attract virtually the same numbers. Not surprisingly figures for 2001 leavers reveal that 77% of A-level students went on to Higher Education while 42% of Advanced Vocational students followed this route.

Matthew Chart, the newly appointed Head of Technology at Alton summarises the engineering learning opportunities at Alton. 'We offer a number of' courses at different levels for students that can lead on ID an engineering career either through higher education or directly into industry. At advanced level there is the new AVCE (Advanced Vocational Certificate of Education) in engineering which has replaced the old BTEC National Diploma. This is a broad course for those students who have identified engineering as their preferred career route This two-year course covers a wide range of engineering related disciplines including materials, science, mathematics- electronics, mechanics, CAD, and engineering in business '1 he course is a good mixture of academic and practical engineering and students attend work experience placements at the end of their first year.

Students can also opt for a program of AS and A-levels. Most choose to study four subjects in the first year. Mathematics, Physics, Design and Technology, Electronics, Computing, and Chemistry are popular and can provide access to a wide range of engineering courses at University.

For students who have not attained the required entry qualifications to study at an advanced level, but who are nevertheless keen to take up engineering, the college offers a GNVQ at intermediate level. This is a one-year general engineering course that covers a range of practical, design and manufacturing skills with related materials and associated technologies knowledge It is supported by an NVQ in Engineering Operations (Level 2), where students gain practical hands on manufacturing skills in our well-equipped workshop.

For further information contact:
Alton Community College, Old Odiham Road. Alton,
Hampshire GV34 2LX. Tel: 01420 592200
Fax: 01420 5922 5 3


Continued encouragement and support from IIE

As you most probably know IIE is dedicated to encouraging, developing and supporting engineers of every discipline throughout their careers.

Our Academic Accreditation Department, managed by Katy Turff-Head of Professional Development and Technical Affairs, continues to identity courses at colleges and universities that are of the right quality to form the academic foundation for IEng and EngTech registration.

Over 40 new courses were accredited last year, 25 of which were degrees. These include degree courses at the University of Wales in Cardiff, Oxford Brookes University, and at Sunderland University, where we accredited a distance learning course for the first time.

IIE has also been working to establish standards for matching sections with a variety of organisations such as Railtrack, the Robert Gordon University and the Royal Navy, so that we can offer guidelines to academics, employers and individuals on the courses and modules that can help to meet the requirements for registration as TFng and EngTech.

New links have been forged with Temasek Polytechnic in Singapore, where IIE has accredited a Diploma course and further courses and matching sections are in the pipeline. We are also assessing NVQs to see how they will contribute to meeting the academic requirements for registration as IEng or EngTech.

IIE has also been closely involved with the Engineering Professors' Council in projects to develop IEng degree output standards and to look at how these can be integrated with Institution accreditation procedures. By ensuring that we provide the best guidance on appropriate academic qualifications to form the basis for membership and professional registration, we can provide clear routes to professional recognition for a wide range of individuals.

Barry Edge, Student and Young Members Advisor, continues to draw-young engineers into the profession while Janet Firmin, Engineering Training Advisor, continues to assess and advise on industrial training matters.


For advice on any of the above training and education initiatives call IIE on 0207 836 3357.