Engineering Your Future Conference

26th September 2023

Recently, seven College pupils travelled up to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire to attend the “Engineering your Future” conference, where they spoke with industry representatives, took part in hands-on workshops and an exclusive tour of the laboratory. The conference is aimed at students considering Engineering as a career.

The highlight of the visit was probably an exclusive tour of the Diamond Light synchrotron - a circular particle accelerator, which works by accelerating electrons through sequences of magnets until they reach almost the speed of light. On-site engineers explained that these fast-moving electrons produce very intense light (10 billion times brighter than the sun), predominantly in the X-ray region. The scientists use this light to study minute matter such as atoms and molecules. Its uses are unexpectedly varied, from studying biological samples to testing the crystallisation of tempered chocolate.

The pupils on their tour of the Diamond Light Synchrotron. The yellow line at their feet marks the path of the electrons, and the concrete blocks they are standing on are shielding them from stray electrons.

The team also took part in a couple of hands-on workshops. In the first they had to design and build a solar-powered vehicle, and were limited to a fixed budget for ‘purchasing’ parts, and a maximum build time of 20 minutes.

In the second workshop, they had to use Lego® components to design and build a robot that could check the quality of a product.

The puipls were also given the opportunity to meet representatives from a number of engineering companies in a carousel of stalls. The engineers included many who took traditional paths into the sector, but also others from more unique backgrounds, such an origami expert, and a former kite designer.

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