Inspiring future engineers through national collaboration

With the deadline for UCAS applications recently closed, Max Clayton – a Year 13 student at New College, Pontefract – has been inspired to apply for engineering courses at university as a result of taking part in a national initiative.

The ‘Fast Trackers’ project was led by Network Rail and Mott Macdonald and ran from March to July 2019. Max was invited to take part in Fast Trackers through his college’s involvement in Go Higher West Yorkshire’s National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP).

Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) is a partnership of higher education providers. The partnership is based at its host Institution, The University of Leeds. GHWY’s National Collaborative Outreach Programme aims to support young people to make informed decisions about higher education.

By connecting them to higher education providers and industry professionals, Fast Trackers gave young people an insight into university-level study as well as careers, and helped them to develop employability skills.

“I’d never thought about what kind of career my interest in physics could lead to,” says Max.

“Through Fast Trackers I visited universities and met engineers, students and academics. Learning about their professional journeys and day-to-day lives helped me to realise that I wanted to get into engineering.”

The project – part of the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP) which has now been rebranded as Uni Connect, and which is funded by the Office for Students – tests key skills such as problem-solving.

Max, for example, worked on an exercise using data to plan a solution to the real world problem of what happens to infrastructure and wildlife when train routes are changed.

“I have now applied to mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering courses to keep my options open while still pursuing my favourite subjects,” says Max.

“I feel good knowing that I am clearer on my future and have chosen a pathway that is right for me.”

“It was a great project to be part of. I hope there are more opportunities like this for other young people like me to get all the information they need to make the right decision for them.”

For further information please contact Clare Addy,

Uni Connect is funded by the Office for Students. It is a national network of hubs across England which offer impartial advice, guidance and activities on the benefits and realities of higher education in college and university.