An engineering student from the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering has run a unique day of activities for students from a South London secondary school, with the aim of sharing some of the opportunities he has had with those who are less fortunate.
Thoughtful Nkoni Nicholas-White invited students from the Oasis Academy Shirley Park in Croydon to spend the day in the south west, where he took them to see some of the engineering companies he has benefitted from visiting and working with during his time at Bath.
The activity was arranged and financed completely on his own initiative, and through various fundraising activities.
Nkoni is in his final year of an MEng degree in aerospace engineering, and will be starting his career with the internationally renowned Rolls Royce in September.
Nkoni said: “I grew up in Croydon, very near to the Oasis Academy. I went to a nearby independent school having won a scholarship, and throughout my senior years I took part in a project which saw me tutoring students at Oasis in maths.
“I was keen to re-establish my relationship with the school and having reflected on the opportunities I’ve had since starting my degree in Bath I thought it would be great if I could extend these to students in the Academy.”
Nkoni worked with the Academy’s careers development manager Michelle Gibbins to identify seven students who were interested in engineering and would most benefit from the day.
The students were initially taken to Airbus in Filton, Bristol, where they were given a presentation on the company’s work and the type of study that would lead to this type of employment.
They then went on to visit Rolls Royce, where they learnt about the workings of a jet engine, the history of engine design and how jet engines have been developed in recent years.
Nkoni said: “I did my placement year at Rolls Royce, and will now be going to work for them once I finish my degree. I got in touch with my old supervisor at the company and we set up the session so that it would spark the imagination of the Academy students and give them a real insight to the process of engineering.”
The group spent the afternoon at RAF Colerne, where Nkoni has personally been involved in Bristol University Air Squadron during his time in Bath. Again he utilised the contacts he has made, and set up talks for the Academy students from RAF pilots.
The group then took part in a number of physical team building activities led by the Squadron Leader, before heading back to London after a fun-packed and insightful day in the world of engineering.
Nkoni said: “The whole day was a huge success and I’ve had some great feedback from the school. I’d love to do more of this sort of thing in the future. There are so many opportunities in engineering, and it was a great way of making young people aware of these.
“I am very grateful to the companies that we visited – they were very open to the event and made it a huge success. I particularly wish to thank Roger Whorrod – who graduated from an engineering degree at the University of Bath in 1965 – his generous support meant we could put the Academy students up in Bath overnight and have an early start to Airbus in the morning.”
Michelle Gibbins, Careers Development Manager at Oasis Academy Coulsdon, said: “The opportunity for our students to gain a first-hand insight into the engineering taking place was invaluable. It truly is an exciting sector for young people to aspire to work within.
“All of the students have returned to the academy with even more determination to fulfil their ambitions and are working hard to secure the qualifications and skills that they will need.”
Annette Hayton, Head of Widening Participation at the University, said: “We run a wide range of outreach programmes through the University, and it is great to see Nkoni taking a personal responsibility for sharing the positives of his course with his home community.
“I am keen for any students wishing to do something similar to get in touch as we might be able to help them make the necessary arrangements.
“The University community wishes Nkoni all the very best in his position with Rolls Royce – his proven self-motivation and drive will undoubtedly ensure a highly successful career.”
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