It is always a struggle trying to find events/courses that can give you an experience of engineering. I also know the struggle of trying to find things that can improve your personal statement for university!
EDT Headstart summer school is an amazing experience, particularly if you want to try specific types of engineering. I attended the Headstart summer school in the summer between Year 12 and Year 13 and it was an all girls Insight summer school at Salford University. It was one of the best experiences I have had.
As always it was daunting at first because I knew I would be living in halls for a few days and spending all my time with people I had just met. Arrival day was not as scary as I expected at all! Everyone gathered in the kitchen and we all introduced ourselves. Within hours we were all talking as though we had known each other for months.
Day 1: we had an “ice breaker” challenge. I know when some people read this it might be an eye rolling moment, and believe me I have had my fair share of awkward ice breakers at college and university. The activity they gave us was designed to team build and teach us to compromise when working in a team. We were given straws and newspaper and had to make a track for a marble to roll down. The winners being the team that caused the ball to fall in the longest time. All I can say is it was not awkward because we were all laughing too much at how horrendous some of them looked!
Day 2: Jam packed! We had presentations given by practising engineers, all of which were female! It was nice to hear from some women for a change! The course provided different projects for different areas of engineering (chemical, biomedical, civil and more). This allowed you to learn more about a specific area that might interest you. I chose biomedical and I found it more interesting than expected as it opened my mind up to parts of medical engineering I had not thought about before (e.g. orthotics). The day was finished with a trip the the theatre; and again, it was nice spend more time with the friends you had made in the last two days.
Day 3: It involved various industry field trips and these were relevant to the project you had chosen. Mine specifically was a visit to a United Biscuits (incorporating the food and health and safety areas of medical engineering). We had the opportunity to see different departments of the factory, including the control/programming room, and the factory in which the biscuits were made. It was fascinating to see how the different department worked in different ways. This visit also ended on a high when we were given free packets of a new biscuits that hadn’t been released yet! To prove just how full our days were, we were then transported to Manchester Airport to view the Concorde (amazing experience to say the least!), after which we all attended a formal dinner to receive our certificates for completing the course. It is always a bonus to be able to dress up and receive a certificate!
Day 4: This day was dedicated to presentations with reference to everything we had understood during the project sessions. This way, we had the opportunity to learn a small amount about the other areas of engineering we had not chosen.
Attending the Headstart summer school was one of the best decisions I have made. The confidence I gained has been invaluable to me and it made even more excited to study engineering and move to university. I learnt specific information about the Medical Engineering that I had not come across before this residential. Just because there are specific courses for girls it does not mean boys are not encouraged as well it just means that they are acknowledging the higher demand for girls!
The Headstart summer school was something that was encouraged through my sixth form college. There are numerous courses to choose from (not just for engineering, for STEM subjects as well) and these are all located at different universities in the UK. Unfortunately I know that not everyone has that privilege and so I hope anyone reading this will be inspired to apply for themselves or urge someone else to. But believe me when I say it is so much better experienced first hand.
Take a look at the Headstart website for courses for Summer 2016!!