Arkwright Scholarships for Elthamians

We were delighted two of our Lower Sixth students Zak and William were recently awarded the prestigious Arkwright Engineering scholarships.  Open to students aged 16 embarking on A Level, BTECs, International Baccalaureate Standards, or Scottish Highers or equivalent exams these awards are highly sought after and students go through a rigorous selection process.

Each scholarship is sponsored by a commercial company, trade association, university, professional institution, armed service, government organisation, worshipful company, charitable trust or personal donor.  The scholarship offers direct access to leading engineering specialists providing hands-on work experience, support for curriculum projects and a personal mentor to support career planning.  Financial awards are given to the students and the school.

We spoke to Zak and William about the selection process and how they felt when they heard they had been successful.

How did you feel when you heard you had received the award? 

Zak: Nothing short of euphoric. I did not think that I would receive the award as I thought that my interview could have gone better, and I did not know quite what to expect from the scholarship in the coming months so was extremely excited to find out.

William: I was ecstatic when I received the email that I had succeeded and couldn’t quite believe it. It is definitely my proudest achievement.

What was the application process?

Zak: I signed up to apply through school at the beginning of Year 11, where we learnt about how to write our applications and what the application process as a whole would entail. By February of 2021, I had to have completed the application form, in which I had to talk about my interests with regards to engineering, plans for beyond school and examples to show I had leadership and initiative skills; as well as detailed evidence of an engineering project I had completed. For this project, I had designed and partially built a pair of sunglasses incorporating a camera, microphone/speaker setup and voice-recognition software on a built-in computer. I had to carefully document my design and manufacturing process, showing all the decisions that I made and the principles behind what I was doing. This was quite hard to do to the required detail and within the set time, so much of my Christmas holiday was spent making and writing up (when I wasn’t revising for mocks of course).

On a normal year, there would have been a skill-based exam in which we would have displayed our design and problem solving skills, as well as our idea communication. However, due to the pandemic, this didn’t take place. Instead everybody moved straight to the interview stage, which was modified so that the interviews were longer and we could show a short presentation about ourselves and our projects. Each interview lasted about half an hour, and was conducted by two engineers from industry. They asked quite a lot of questions in quick succession which made it rather nerve-racking.

After the interview which occurred in the summer, I then had to wait until October to find out if I had been awarded the scholarship or not.

William: The application process starts with an online form with personal details as well as details of an engineering project and more open-ended questions.

Normally there is a written exam next, but this was cancelled this year due to COVID. After succeeding in this, there is an interview on Teams, and I found the interviewers very friendly and ensuring that it went as smoothly as possible. This is when a presentation of an engineering project is given.

What do you receive as an Arkwright Scholar?

Zak: As an Arkwright Scholar, I receive mentoring from a professional in industry; the opportunity to meet with other engineers and explore new fields of engineering in “Connect days”; a substantial financial award; as well as a digital badge to use for online profiles.

William:  Valuable mentoring is gained, as well as access to wonderful events and a financial reward for engineering projects paid in two instalments.

Do you hope to go onto study Engineering at University?

Zak: I do indeed. I think that Engineering is a wonderful subject, marrying the logical aspects of maths with the problem-solving nature of physics and design; anybody who wants to use their skills to create ideas and make an impact should certainly consider Engineering as an option.

William:  I am definitely going to do a STEM degree, and I am seriously considering a form of Engineering.

More details about the scholarships can be found here.