The Arkwright Scholarships Trust awarded me an engineering scholarship at the end of my fourth year of secondary school (in Scotland, equivalent to year 11 in England and Wales, and year 12 in Northern Ireland) after I made an application around Christmas time. The selection process involved first being nominated by my school (which involved researching and delivering a presentation of different touch screen technologies), before filling out an online form. I then sat an aptitude exam in school, which involved answering open ended design questions. I was then invited for an interview day at Heriot-Watt University. This was great fun, we got to take part in a chemical engineering project in groups, working in the university labs to try and create the stickiest ‘goo’ from the chemicals we were given. We were also interviewed during the day, I was asked to talk about the robot I had been designing as part of the Toyota Schools Challenge. There were also tours of the engineering facilities in the University, and a chance to see some of the projects that the current students were working on.
In the summer before S5 I found out that I had been awarded a scholarship, which meant I received money over the final two years of school to help towards engineering/technology related costs (I used mine to cover work experience travel, and buy some books and a soldering iron), free design software, and the chance to meet other scholars and sponsors. My sponsor not only provided me with information about working in the engineering field and advice on subjects to consider taking while at school, but also helped to arrange a week long work experience at BP in Aberdeen. Whilst there I was able to shadow two sandwich year engineering students on site visits and work meetings, as well as get presentations from people throughout the company on working in the oil and gas industry, their experiences at university, and the design and technology involved in deep sea drilling.
I had a fantastic time as an Arkwright Scholar, despite eventually deciding to study Natural Sciences at university rather than engineering! I would thoroughly recommend applying to anyone who thinks that they might want to pursue engineering after leaving school, whether through a university degree or an apprenticeship.