DS wants to do 'engineering'...

(50 Posts)
LittenTree Wed 19-Sep-12 15:22:01

I am an FE numpty. I know nothing. DS is in Y9 and is showing aptitude in science/maths- not at a very high level, I should add, but I believe he'd be capable of science/maths 'A' levels.

He has suggested he'd like to 'do engineering' at FE. I confess I am wholly supportive of thsi ambition as I believe STEM is where the jobs of the future will lie.

Now, how and where do we go about finding out what the options for engineering are, which colleges offer what he might choose to do etc? I don't know which are 'good' now as I'm looong out of the system!

There are other routes, too, like joining a big company at 18 and working whilst studying simultaneously, I've heard, but is there an 'umbrella' place where such information is stored?

His school, whilst an excellent comp, goes to 16, then it's 6th form college where I trust he will be guided; but forewarned, etc!

Bearcat Wed 19-Sep-12 15:46:38

DS1 did civil engineering at university.
Probably engineering is one of the more difficult courses at university (he once told me that even his medical student friends thought the engineers worked harder than they did!)
Your son should probably be choosing the 3 sciences for GCSE and then when he gets to A level should definitely be choosing maths and physics.
Engineering degrees are 4 years long if you then want to go on to become a chartered engineer.
Contact time was about 25 hours a week I seem to remember when he was at university and he only graduated 2 years ago.
I don't think engineering is a degree for the faint hearted. It was hard work and DS1 had had enough after 4 years and was happy to finish.
Yr 9 is probably too young to start worrying about where he might study engineering, but just make sure he chooses well with GCSE's and particularly at A level.
Good luck!

creamteas Wed 19-Sep-12 18:29:49

Have a look here he might find it helpful

BTW do you live in the West Midlands? If so he might be able to go to Aston UTC which is an engineering-based college.

Betelguese Wed 19-Sep-12 19:19:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

senua Wed 19-Sep-12 20:22:49

I am an FE numpty.

Um, do you mean FE or HE? FE (further ed) usually means C&G, HND, foundation degree etc. HE (higher ed) usually means degree at University. Do you know yet which path is likely, or are you looking at all post A Level options?

harbingerofdoom Wed 19-Sep-12 21:29:19

Your son is in year 9. Just make sure he can do the GCSEs that show his ability in the STEM areas.
Then,after he has his grades, he will look at 6th form colleges. Some will be great for the high fliers and others will offer HND and work based courses.

Just make sure the first bit is addressed for now.

ratbagcatbag Wed 19-Sep-12 21:34:39

I got an apprenticeship at 16 with rolls-Royce in engineering, was sneered at by lots of college bound people, 13 years on I'm in a role I love, doing a degree they are funding earning a very decent wage at the same time, to get similar now they don't just want gcse results they want to know what projects people have been involved in etc outside school that are engineering related. smile

Betelguese Thu 20-Sep-12 12:09:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Betelguese Thu 20-Sep-12 12:12:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bruffin Thu 20-Sep-12 12:34:02

Find out if your ds's school is affiliated to the Arkwright Scholarship Trust scheme or see if they would be interested. My DS has just been awarded a 6th form scholarship from Arkwright to study towards taking an engineering degree at university.

Betelguese Thu 20-Sep-12 12:42:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bruffin Thu 20-Sep-12 18:41:29

Thanks Betelguese grin Hope full
OP- I think it is quite easy for a school to become affiliated, so it may be worth bringing the scheme to the school attention now.

SCOTCHandWRY Fri 21-Sep-12 07:36:31

re Arkwright, applications have now opened for next year. The applicant must be in current 4th year (Scotland), Y11 (England), so one for the future OP!

If a school is not affiliated, they can do that at the same time they put a student/students forward.

My DS1 got an Arkwright, DS3 is trying for one this year - they are not just for those who want to study Engineering, but all STEM subjects (emphasis is on engineering tho). DS1 is studying Medicine, but is very interested in electronic engineering and I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up combining both in his future career.

bruffin Fri 21-Sep-12 08:45:54

Sorry OP slightly of topic
Scotchandwry
Did your DS get a free Headstart course from Arkwright? The website says that they pay for a Headstart but i don't think it's mentioned in the papers DS received.
Also if you don't mind me asking what has your DS spent his money on?

SCOTCHandWRY Fri 21-Sep-12 21:41:34

I don't remember anything called Headstart (his 1st year of the 2 year scholarship was 2009/10 school year, I think the Whole Arkwright has got bigger in the last couple of years?).

He spent his money on a helicopter (about £180), and lots of electronic stuff which he used to design/build things for it. He designed some circuit boards for another project too, and had a few dozen of these made in China (for his school to use).

He was able to use this in Uni application as a talking point and talk it round to his interest in the future applications of some of the components he used in the Helicopter in medical applications such as tiny devices to deliver drugs to the correct place and other clever things.

harbingerofdoom Fri 21-Sep-12 22:49:02

My DD did a big engineering STEM competition that was allowed as an AS level.It was in the news and another group designed something to detect/blow up IEDs.

FancyBread Fri 21-Sep-12 23:38:48

You could try this book available from Amazon or UCAS etc

The UCAS Guide to Getting into Engineering and Mathematics: Information on Careers, Entry Routes and Applying to University or College in 2013 (Progression Series) [Paperback]

ISBN-10: 1908077182
ISBN-13: 978-1908077189

FancyBread Fri 21-Sep-12 23:41:41

These are the Headstart courses.

They are great but hard to get on.

Quiteoldmother Sat 22-Sep-12 22:01:31

Possibilities: GCSE options: Separate science GCSEs so physics included. (Avoid BTEc science or similar); maybe a DT option such as resistant materials or electronic products, and aim for high grade in maths of course.
Post 16: apprenticeships with big company eg British Aerospace or Rolls Royce if available where you live; or A levels in maths and physics etc; or BTEC Nat Dip in Engineering followed by apprenticeship or university.

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 22-Sep-12 22:17:03

It depends what you mean by engineering.

The top disciplines of mechanical, civil, electrical, and chemical are on par with other professions, such as law and medicine - at Russell Group universities.

Below that are many niche subsets, such as industrial and aeronautical engineering. Then you get technician level courses or apprenticeships.

I would recommend aiming high. An A* student at GCSE should be looking towards A-levels including Physics and Maths (and Chemistry for Chem Eng). RG universities will ask for AAA to ABB at A2. If your DS is capable of these grades, he should go for top courses.

As with any UCAS application, he will want to demonstrate his passion for the course. This could mean reading about the subject, getting work experience or doing a summer course (such as Headatart).

LittenTree Sat 22-Sep-12 22:55:37

Just to let you know I'm reading with interest, still!

fossil97 Sat 22-Sep-12 23:38:52

He might not be clear about this at Y9, but for now do maths and science GSCEs as suggested, plus other subjects that interest him. When he has an idea of his grades and A level choices he can start to narrow down disciplines and whether or not to go the university route.

It's also worth trying to get involved in some careers courses or events like the Big Bang fair or Headstart as suggested. It helps to understand and focus on the options both for disciplines and how to get into them. And just generally get excited about engineering generally.

FWIW I'm a civil engineer, I design bridges and motorways, I go out and get muddy. There was no way I was going to build an electronic flying helicopter at any point in my career but I definitely remember the first time I visited a working building site. So don't get put off if he doesn't want to build a robot, there is so very much else to it.

Engineering is very diverse, but it's a great career that you can go into at lots of levels.

Bellaciao Wed 26-Sep-12 17:35:52

By the way you do not necessairly have to do a 4 year course at university - this is the higher level M Eng ie a masters incorporated into the degree. But the lower level B Eng is 3 years like many other degrees and the grade requirements are lower - depending on the university

My son did get in to do an M Eng at a Russell group uni but dropped out of his 3rd year half-way through because he fell behind (health issue amongst other reasons) - went back and did the 3rd year and came out with a B Eng (Mehcanical and Manufacturing). He is now 25 and has just completed a one year grad scheme in a company and has been give a really good job at 30K per annum.

There is still a shortage of engineers ( maybe not when your son gets to 21!) at the moment so if he is able and gets a 2:1 degree is almost assured of some sort of job - of course depending on which engineering discipline he chooses.

As one of the previous posters said - this is only one route - but just thought I would point out the 3 year degree option, which is less demanding.

Knowsabitabouteducation Wed 26-Sep-12 20:56:35

I would caution against being satisfied with a BEng. Obviously, if that is the match with your A-level grades, then fine, but aim to move up to MEng at the end of the first year. A BEng is also fine is joining a major company on a graduate programme that enables you to effectively finish the MEng on the way to chartered status.

This is for the professional engineering disciplines of Electrical/Electronic, Mechanical, Civil, and Chemical Engineering.

I have a feeling that the BEng vs MEng is separating technicians from design engineers.

TheFallenMadonna Wed 26-Sep-12 21:19:35

DH is a mechanical engineer. He has a BEng, but it was a long time ago, and that was what was on offer back then...

Knowsabitabouteducation Wed 26-Sep-12 22:10:11

Yes, the 'older' generation, a bachelor's degree was the standard. In fact, a higher degree was a bit suspicious as it made it look as if you weren't employable from the get-go. I have a 1980s Engineering degree, a BSc. All but a couple of us in my graduating class got jobs in the milk round. The ones who didn't stayed on for PhDs (we didn't have MSc/MEng at my university in those days).

It is very different now. A master's is the new bachelor's. A large part of the first year is taken up with building up and teaching basic skills (especially literacy) which previously would have been covered in sixth forms. They also need the extra year to cover the basics of the degree, especially when taking into account new issues and innovations, such as environmental issues and nanotechnology.

A lot of engineering jobs require you to become a chartered engineer within an few years. My understanding is that the MEng satisfies a lot of the CEng requirements, so it is not a wasted year.

LonelyCloud Wed 26-Sep-12 22:37:30

I'd point out that doing a BEng degree doesn't necessarily bar you from getting chartered.

Chemical engineering graduates with a BEng can still get chartered, but the IChemE (chemical engineering institute) requires them to do "further learning to masters" - either through doing stuff in the workplace, or by doing more academic study. Although I do agree it would be generally simpler to do the extra MEng year if that was an option.

Whynotchemeng gives some info on chemical engineering for students thinking about a career in chemical or process engineering. Agree that going to events like the big bang fair is good if he's thinking of an engineering career.

If your son wants to do engineering of any sort, maths is essential. Physics (and chemistry for chemical engineering) are also very important. If he gets the chance to do single science GCSEs, he should do those, to be better prepared for science A-levels.

He may also be able to apply for engineering apprenticeships depending on where you live. I know a couple of mechanical and electrical engineers who started out as apprentices doing day release study at local universities.

androbbob Wed 26-Sep-12 22:55:30

My advice (as a Chartered Civil Engineer) would be to look at the entry requirements to be a Chartered Engineer - these days a Masters degree is needed to become Chartered. He may change his mind as he gets older so perhaps do not narrow your options down. I did not do an engineering degree, just Maths & Computer Science and was able to become Chartered. Several degree courses are automatically considered to be the academic level required for C Eng, so investigate those.

Working backwards again, then as you say, you can either do engineering at college after GCSE's and some of these have a broad base, or you can do general A levels in science subjects - definately maths as it is a good base for engineering.

A good college or university will have links with the industry and provide some non academic based experience.

There are quite a few forms of engineering and some Universities will do a basic general engineering first year and then allow the student to specialise later on - which exposes them to all other types of engineering.

I should add that the money side is not great but the rewards are seeing things built! My kids know all the work I have designed locally!!!

There may well be a shortage of engineers, but in civil engineering there are many graduates who are unable to find a job. You can also do day release courses at universities that allow you to work (and earn!), gain general experience, while studying for your qualifications at college one day a week. This obviously takes longer, but works for some people.

Bellaciao Wed 26-Sep-12 23:16:14

OK just to add

1 B Eng is not just separating technicians from design engineers. My son with B Eng (mentioned above) has just (after completing the graduate scheme) got a job on very good pay for his age of 25 (30K) as a stress engineer - not a techinician - and could have got a job as design engineer at the UK company where he works.

2 You do not need to have an M Eng to become chartered as he has been offered the opportunity (but this is not a requirement) to work towards becoming chartered if he wants to.

3 The (Russell Group) university he went to in fact taught the same course to all 1st and 2nd years and it was only in the third year that the M Eng students diverged from the B Eng and in fact it was possible to transfer from BEng to M Eng based on performance irrespective of A level grades.

When he went for the graudate scheme he had a choice of 2 jobs and the first one he was offered matched the salary of the grad scheme and upgraded the post from technical level to mehcanical engineer to try to attract him, and I wouldn't say he is in any way a high flier.

Of course I don't "Know a bit about education" especially engineering but this is based on my son's own recent experience. I am not saying don't aim high but it is possible to succeed in engineering even nowadays - without the top level degree.

Hope this helps.

Knowsabitabouteducation Thu 27-Sep-12 06:39:53

Was that supposed to contradict any of my posts, Bella?

LittenTree Thu 27-Sep-12 08:36:12

I am still 'lurking' and reading with interest, thanks for the ongoing input- I am already the wiser!

wanderingalbatross Thu 27-Sep-12 08:58:10

I'd also add that it's a better idea to do a more general engineering degree, if it's possible, and specialise later. Having a more general undergrad degree will keep his options open, allow him to change his mind, and be better for working in cross-discipline areas in the future.

There are many 1-year postgrad masters (that's different to the 4 year undergrad MEng) that allow you to specialise, or you can get training on the job. Obviously that's a long way off for him, but it is worth bearing in mind that there are many ways to specialise in the future and he doesn't have to decide which area of engineering to go for now.

Second all the advice about maths, physics and programming.

Engineering is a great degree to have, hard work at times, but definitely worth it smile

It's definitely worth it to have a numerate degree. If he chooses to study it at university level, another career choice is finance. Many of my classmates and former colleagues now work in the City.

Betelguese Thu 27-Sep-12 18:23:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Knowsabitabouteducation Thu 27-Sep-12 18:30:38

A course with a general first year is great. Not only does it delay the decision- making for a further year, it gives an understanding and appreciation for the other engineering disciplines. Most engineers work in multifunctional teams, so this understanding is useful, if not vital.

In the course I did, all engineers did engineering and maths in the first year. Chemical Engineers did Chemistry, and the others had a free choice of a third subject. The Eng I course cycled through Mechanical, Electrical, Civil and Chemical Engineerings, with lectures, labs and tutorials. Everyone signed up for a specific honours degree at the start, but a fair number switched at the end of the first year.

LonelyCloud Thu 27-Sep-12 21:57:55

Not all universities require general first years (but I agree it's great if you're not sure which engineering discipline to go for).

The university I went to offered an engineering foundation year, aimed at students who didn't have the maths or science needed to go straight onto an engineering degree, and also at students with maths & science who weren't sure which engineering degree they wanted to do.

However, students who'd done maths & science and knew which type of engineering they wanted to do could go straight onto a specific engineering course. I did that, and the course was focussed on my engineering discipline from the start. The only module we did with other engineering students was engineering mathematics. This also meant that I didn't have to do a programming module - yes, we had to be able to use process modelling software and set up calculations using excel - but no having to do a module on learning how to do C programming or similar.

harvestvestibule Fri 28-Sep-12 22:33:37

MEng is necessary for accreditation and RG unis are looking for A*AA to AAA
Not sure waht all the angst on here about C is. I learned it a few years back and it'snot hard at all.

JustGettingByMum Mon 01-Oct-12 11:57:53

Op, as your DS is still a bit younger, its well worth looking at the courses run by The Smallpeice Trust as these are available from Y9 onwards and allow you to learn about different types of engineering to decide what "clicks" for you.

2rebecca Thu 28-Feb-13 23:04:25

Russell Group universities aren't necessarily the best for many engineering degrees, alot of new uni/expolys have a technical base and good links with industry and get good student satisfaction and career prospects and can require lower grades. The grades you require to get in aren't necessarily a reflection of how "good" the course is even though league tables act as though this is the case.
I friend of mine who is a uni professor moved his course up the league table and got more applicants by increasing the grade requirements because he decided it would make the course look more prestigious. Nothing else changed about the course.

bangwhizz Thu 07-Mar-13 14:53:57

Hmm well I would take 2Rebeccas advice with a pinch of salt.Firstly most of these places don't offer an Meng so they have then to study more to get chartered status. So why not do it as a properly planned Meng from the start? Also Unistats do not bear out her claims about career prospects

MariscallRoad Thu 07-Mar-13 15:08:16

One has to be very specific which kind of degree and specialisation of engineering they are talking about because there is a great number of them and not all of them are taught in every school. Besides there are specialised research centres in schools. That is why it is good to read about the kind of eng you would like to study and then go to an open day

Lilymaid Thu 07-Mar-13 15:10:13

I'd agree with you Bangwhizz. There are courses and courses and for engineering like other subjects the better places to take the more academic courses tend to be the larger and well established universities (so DH says and he's a Fellow of two engineering institutions and a visiting professor of engineering).
I'm thinking of places such as Manchester University, Imperial, Strathclyde, Bristol, Nottingham, Cambridge ... and quite a few others.

2rebecca Mon 11-Mar-13 14:24:20

Strathclyde and Heriot Watt are 2 of the best places in Scotland for engineering degrees. Neither are Russell group unis, both offer MEngs so NO my advice does not need to be taken with a pinch of salt, I have experience in the field and do know what I am talking about.

BaconAndAvocado Sun 17-Mar-13 22:43:03

Could somebody explain the Headstart courses. Are they residential and how long do,they last?

(Sorry to barge in )

MariscallRoad Sun 17-Mar-13 23:54:16

Is it this one perhaps? www.etrust.org.uk/about_edt.cfm

2rebecca Tue 19-Mar-13 13:33:50

Yes, that's the link to them. My son applied for one but it was all a bit last minute and casual (typical boy) and last year only 2/3 of applicants got a place so I suspect he's been unsuccessful as he hasn't heard yet.
They sounded very good and are residential with academic and social stuff. Wish I could go on one! As well as sounding fun and giving you an idea of whether or not you fancy engineering and if you do which type you fancy they are another thing to stick on your personal statement.

NewFerry Tue 19-Mar-13 17:37:22

The (only) down side to the headstart course is that they generally take place in the summer of Y12, so it's quite late to do a first engineering course. If you can, try 1 or 2 of the smallpeice courses first. Then apply for the head start in Y12.

Obv this advice is refundant if you are already in Y12!

BaconAndAvocado Wed 20-Mar-13 13:33:18

Thanks, my DS is in Year 10 but is, currently smile very enthusiastic about going to Uni to do Chem Eng.

Where are the residential courses held?

2rebecca Wed 20-Mar-13 18:00:27

At the universities, if you follow the headstart course links Mariscallroad put on then it tells you which universities put on courses and about the residential aspect and cost

NewFerry Wed 20-Mar-13 18:30:52

Both smallpeice and head start are held over a large number of unis across the UK.
Click on their websites for more details, smallpeice definitely good for Y10.
Actually, I've just Checked, they go right through to Y12, so if you've missed a head start, then it's definitely worth looking to see if smallpeice have any places.

By the way, my DS did his first smallpeice in Y10, and although its held at the uni and they stay in uni accom, they are really well cared for and supervised at all times.

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