Dyson encourages design engineering

The UK government has just announced its five ‘golden’ subjects for the education curriculum. Sadly engineering doesn’t feature in this. The reality is that the country is suffering from a lack of trained engineers. The figures are quite shocking: the UK produces only 24,000 engineering graduates a year, compared to around 300,000 in China and 450,000 in India.

Students in this field are often lured to work in the finance sector with the offer of better pay. What’s more, foreign engineering students often find that they can’t stay in the UK after they’ve finished their education for visa reasons, forced to work elsewhere and taking their skills with them.

James Dyson is actively trying to change this. The creator of the famous Dyson vacuum cleaner believes the way to encourage students to take up engineering is to induce a love for design and technology at a very young age.


His James Dyson Foundation is offering a donation of £1m over three years to encourage young people to pursue their interest in design and engineering.

In a culture where failure is never encouraged, the learning of design and technology must seem insane where it is completely acceptable to fail projects, to try and try harder in order to discover better solutions. This is after all the whole nature of design engineering.

Dyson, himself a qualified engineer who then went on to do study industrial design at the prestigious Royal College of Art in London, says that on top of this, students are often priced out of postgraduate research posts due to debts accrued as an undergraduate and ongoing cost of living.

‘Studying design and engineering is costly,’ admits Dyson, noting: ‘But it’s vital. We don’t produce enough engineers to get the country out of economic doldrums with new technology. The challenge is ensuring the best don’t drop out in favour of banking careers.’

Four postgraduate bursaries of £25,000 per year will be available to students at the University of Bath, Bristol, Corpus Christie Cambridge, and Imperial College London from September 2011.

They will be awarded to students who show a passion for engineering, accounting for academic excellence and financial need.

Additionally, £60,000 will be available to five institutions this year, including the RCA and Loughborough University, to support specific projects that show technical excellence and creative flair. The foundation gives a further £30,000 per annum to the RCA to promising student ideas.

For more information visit James Dyson.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

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