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How to Prepare for the Arkwright Engineering Scholarship Application

How to Prepare for the Arkwright Engineering Scholarship Application

Two of our current Arkwright Scholars, Lily Brown and Jack Critchlow offer their top tips and guidance on how to prepare for the Arkwright Engineering Scholarship application process.

Arkwright Scholarships are designed to inspire students to pursue their dreams and change the world as future leaders in engineering. Yarm is one of a limited number of schools that offer this sought-after Scholarship and we have seen an impressive 39 Yarm pupils being selected for one in the last ten years.

The application process is rigorous but the reward is worth it as every Scholarship is sponsored by a commercial company, trade association, university, professional institution, armed service, government organisation, worshipful company, charitable trust or personal donor who offer scholars support in various ways such as work experience, a personal mentor, career development and project support.

To help pupils who are keen to apply for the Arkwright Scholarship, we spoke to two of our current Scholars for insight into their experiences throughout the process as well as their top tips and guidance on how to prepare for each stage.

Q: Why did you apply for the Arkwright Scholarship?

Lily: Mr Spence told us about the Arkwright Scholarship when we were in Fifth Year and I thought it sounded like a great idea. I knew I was interested in Engineering in general, possibly even as a career, but I didn’t really understand what that meant or looked like in reality. I thought the Scholarship would help and give me the opportunity to find out.

Jack: I applied because I thought it was a great opportunity to be recognised as a future leader in the engineering industry whilst benefiting from financial support, industry experience, and mentoring from professionals.

Q: What subjects are you studying at A Level?

Lily: Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry

Jack: Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry and Music

Q: Please explain the Arkwright Scholarship application process

Lily: The application process is quite rigorous but it is interesting. We completed an online application form in September of Fifth Year which asked us why we were applying and showcased examples of our interest in engineering and what we hoped to study.

Jack: The application form consists of various questions about your studies, your future interest in engineering, and about an engineering/design product you have produced. I used my GCSE Design Technology project where I designed a process that incentivised households to reduce their waste by offering a rebate to those who do. This went along with black bin weighing scales that I built. After the application form, you have to sit an exam which consists of creative design questions. You are given 2 problems that you must solve by designing a product.

Lily: The exam in February was a cross between DT and Physics; I sketched and annotated a device to transport a plant pot. We then had to carry out an engineering project and I made a “rig-jig” to help adjust rowing oars.

The next stage is an interview and you have to take your engineering project with you. I had a great interview day at Heriot Watt University where I had to demonstrate my “rig-jig” and explain the engineering challenges of it. The day also involved an observed engineering challenge in the labs.

Jack: You meet fellow applicants in some group engineering activities at a nearby university, as well as attend the interview. This interview is usually with two experts in your chosen area of engineering. For me, that was chemical engineering.

Lily: I found out I’d been successful in May and was matched with a sponsor organisation over the summer. We also got to attend an awards ceremony in November at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in London.

Q: What advice would you give to pupils completing their application form?

Lily: Do your best to portray your interest in engineering and give real life examples as I think they are looking for pupils with a real commitment and interest, rather than just technical knowledge. Also, think clearly about what you want to get out of the Scholarship.

Jack: You really want to stand out from the crowd as there will be pupils across the country applying just like you. Be creative and passionate. Don’t undersell yourself. Try and demonstrate your knowledge of engineering, specifically in your chosen area. Perhaps do some background research of your chosen area or famous engineers. They want to see that you are really passionate about engineering.

Q: What advice would you give to pupils taking the exam?

Lily: The exam was completely different to anything I had done before so I would definitely recommend trying some practice papers – there are lots available on the Arkwright website. Making sure you have a thorough knowledge of different materials and their properties will also be useful as you have to annotate your drawings with suitable material suggestions. Don’t worry too much about your drawings though – judging by my exam, they certainly don’t mind if you have completed a neat drawing or not if you have clearly demonstrated your thinking.

Jack: You don’t need to ‘revise’ as such, so don’t get stressed about it. The exam is testing whether you have a creative mind and can think outside the box so try and be as creative as possible. Don’t be too worried if you’re not 100% sure your idea will definitely work – design is all about trying things and seeing if they work, so you’re not expected to come up with an industry level design in a two hour exam. One of the challenges I was set was designing a gutter cleaning mechanism.

Have a look at some practice papers and try doing them in timed conditions. Another good exercise would be to find a problem in your house that annoys you, for example you don’t have somewhere to put your shoes, and come up with some designs to solve that problem.

Q: What advice would you give to pupils for the interview?

Lily: The interview was really relaxed and friendly. I was asked to talk about and demonstrate my rig-jig before they asked me questions about things I had included in my application form. The questions weren’t difficult or technical; they were trying to establish whether I had a genuine interest in engineering.

To help me prepare, I had a practice interview with a friend who works in engineering however I wouldn’t say that that is necessary.

Jack: Read through your application carefully to make sure you’re familiar with everything you have mentioned. Make sure you know your idea and design like the back of your hand because they can and will ask detailed questions about it and practise your interview technique with a parent or sibling.

Most importantly, be yourself, be friendly, demonstrate your passion and interest and speak enthusiastically.

The interviewer may ask if you have any questions for them, so go prepared with some well thought out questions.

Q: Who sponsors your Arkwright Scholarship and what help have you received from them?

Lily: I have been sponsored by BAM Nuttall. They had organised some work experience for me and I was due to attend summer school at Southampton University but due to Covid-19, a lot of this has been cancelled. They did arrange a virtual interview for me with a Senior Engineer in the field I am interested in and have also said they will reorganise work experience next year if they are able to.

Jack: My sponsor is the Arkwright Benefactor, an anonymous donor who has put forward money to fund an Arkwright Scholarship. My mentor, Andrew Gore is a former chemical engineer with many industry contacts. He lined up work experience for me at Teesside chemical plant with some big companies like INEOS.

The scholarship also offered connect days, such as a day at the Red Arrows, as well as a week-long nuclear engineering residency in Manchester. These are great experiences to make the most of and are great things to mention in a personal statement.

Q: What are your ambitions post Yarm?

Lily: I am interested in pursuing a career in structural engineering so have applied for engineering courses at university and have found it useful to be able to reference the Arkwright Scholarship on my UCAS form.

Jack: I plan to study Chemical Engineering at Manchester University.

Q: Who would you recommend applies for the Arkwright Scholarship?

Lily: Anyone with an interest in engineering! From my experience, it has provided a real insight into what life as an engineer is really like.

Jack: Anyone who plans to take Maths at A Level and is interested in a career in engineering. It is worth applying as you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

For more information about Arkwright Scholarships at Yarm School, please contact Mr Spence on ds@yarmschool.org. Information on all of the Scholarships available can be found here.