The Beacon School Leaderboard 09/05

Hands-On Engineering at Oundle

Published on isbi School News dated Tuesday 4th of February 2014

The third week of the Easter Quarter at Oundle School saw the visit of Swansea University's aerospace engineer Dr Ben Evans as part of the new Engineer in Residence scheme.

The scheme, initiated by Sanderson Fellow and Chemistry teacher, Dr James Bessent, is aimed to educate and inspire the pupils about the role of a modern day engineer.

James commented, 'Oundle has a rich history in engineering and it is hoped that the visit will inspire the next generation of Oundle pupils into considering engineering as a career path.

Engineering courses have moved well beyond the confines of the manufacturing industry and involve greater blurring of disciplines, especially across the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. One of the aims of this visit was to showcase the range of careers and skill sets within engineering and to open pupils' eyes to the diversity and the future - of the industry as a whole.'

Dr Evans's packed 3 day timetable saw him deliver classes in aerodynamics to U6th physicists as well as wowing audiences with his work as lead aerodynamicist on the Bloodhound SSC car, a supersonic car which Bloodhound hope will exceed 1000mph come 2016. Alongside this Dr Evans also visited Laxton Junior School for a 1hr extravaganza and gave careers advice at a drop-in careers surgery.
Fourth Form (Year 10) pupil, Pontus Lee commented, 'Dr Evans was inspiring and gave us interest in pursuing a career in engineering.'

Upper Sixth former (Year 13) Ellie Cook added, 'The talks made you realise the huge importance of mathematics and design in aerodynamics.'

James concluded, 'A truly memorable three days.'

For more information about the Bloodhound SSC project or Dr Evans visit:


Background to Engineering at Oundle

According to EngineeringUK, there has been a 15% worldwide drop in students studying engineering. Staff at Oundle feel that engagement with engineering must commence at school to nuture and prepare the next generation of UK engineering graduates and that schools play a crucial role in shaping engineering minds of the future.

Oundle's history dates back to 1556 and at the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its celebrated Headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established its reputation as one of the great Science and practical Engineering schools.

One of Sanderson's principles was that of 'providing the best possible equipment'. Today this is enshrined in the School's outstanding Patrick Centre for Design Technology and the ground-breaking SciTec complex.

One of the great facets of Sanderson's revolutionary legacy was a culture of hands-on practical experience with the desire to give pupils the freedom to be creative and able to work independently on research and design projects.
Sanderson was appointed with the specific objectives of reorganising teaching, introducing fresh subjects of study, and raising pupil numbers and the status of the School. He succeeded in all these objectives, establishing the science and engineering departments. He built new laboratories and workshops, and introduced a co-operative method for engineering and other subjects. He was an authority on hydrostatics and electricity.

Sanderson's passionate desire was to give Oundle's pupils freedom to fulfil themselves and he directed that the laboratories should be left unlocked at all times, so that pupils could go in and work on their own research projects, even if unsupervised. The more dangerous chemicals were locked up, 'but enough was left about to disturb the equanimity of other masters who had less faith than the Head in that providence which looks after the young.'
The same open door policy (albeit supervised!) applies to the School's workshops today, which are amongst the finest in the country, filled with state-of-the-art machine tools which were Sanderson's pride and joy. Sanderson's hatred of any locked door which might stand between a pupil and some worthwhile enthusiasm symbolised his whole attitude to education.

Head of Design and Technology, Clive Humphreys commented, 'The Patrick Centre prides itself in being able to facilitate pupils in all their engineering and design endeavors allowing them to experiment and problem solve in a safe, well equipped environment.

The Design and Technology department is housed in three buildings collectively known as the Patrick Centre (after former pupil Alex Patrick). The main body of the department is centred in two of the buildings, providing large interconnecting workshops and fabrication space with teaching areas and features:

* A machine shop equipped with manual and CNC engineering lathes/manual and CNC milling machines;
* A hot metal area for casting, a forge and hearths for braising and soldering;
* Woodturning lathes and benches;
* A CAD/CAM room with four CAD/CAM routers, a Laser Cutter and dedicated computers with specialised industrial software to integrate IT skills into all aspects of design and manufacture;
* Two computer rooms;
* A large dedicated welding area.
The third building contains a second computer room, a design studio and a microelectronics lab. All the areas are well equipped with hand tools and are maintained by qualified technicians.
Recent pupil successes include prestigious Arkwright Scholarships, a Stuart Pugh prize winner, an important national competition awarded by the Institute of Designer Engineers, and Gold awards from the CREST award scheme.

The department offers the pupils the time space and skills outside the curriculum to develop their individual paths with activities as varied as jewellery making, woodturning, off-road go-carts, hovercraft and the manufacture of fully road legal cars.
The School offers two Scholarships for Design and Technology, one at 13 and one at 16 . Entry forms and further details are available from:

Mrs Helen Vincent
Undermaster's Assistant,
Oundle School, Peterborough, PE8 4GH
Telephone 44 (0)1832 277116
Fax 44 (0)1832 277119
Hands-On Engineering at Oundle - Photo 1Hands-On Engineering at Oundle - Photo 2
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