Aiden Rogers graduated from The JCB Academy in 2012 and is currently doing a Higher Apprenticeship at Rolls-Royce. In this interview he gives his perspective on a UTC education and what he valued most.
What led you to decide to move to The JCB Academy from your previous school?
"The JCB Academy allowed me to work on real-life projects from some of the leading engineering companies in the world. That reason, coupled with the fantastic engineering facilities, was the main reason behind my decision to attend a UTC for my A-levels.
"It was also fantastic to attend a school where I had the same interests as each and every student around me. We were all there to study engineering and shared interests strengthened relationships and project teams."
What do you feel is different about the teaching at a UTC compared to a mainstream school?
"The key difference between a UTC and a mainstream school is the exposure to industry. All of my learning was integrated with real engineering problems which I found more engaging than theoretical subjects in isolation.
"It was also good that the UTC could focus all their efforts on a small area of the curriculum. A mainstream school has to cater for future doctors, dentists and beauticians whereas a UTC can just focus on producing the best engineers."
Can you describe one of the highlights of your time at The JCB Academy?
"A highlight of my time at the UTC was the 2011 National Schools Aerospace Challenge, promoted by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and supported by the RAF. Our three man team won the UK national competition. We had help from Mr Starkey, Science Team Leader at the UTC, and did further work at Cranfield with RAF engineers."
How have you applied the learning and skills you gained at The JCB Academy in your role at Rolls Royce?
"Throughout my time at JCB I was exposed to a lot of team project-based learning. This is exactly how I have to work at Rolls-Royce, in a project team-based environment. There could be no better preparation.
"Many of the projects I worked on at the UTC involved presenting ideas back to industry. This led to me becoming well-rehearsed in giving presentations and having the confidence to communicate my ideas."
As part of the planning team at Derby UTC what have you learnt about setting up UTCs?
"I have a much clearer understanding of the huge amount of work done behind the scenes to get a UTC ready for opening. I have also seen, first hand, just how supportive engineering and manufacturing organisations are of UTCs and the confident, employable young people they create."
Where would you like to be in five years’ time?
"In five years’ time I would like to be in my first management position within Rolls-Royce, having completed my training scheme and masters degree. The fact that I have been able to join a scheme that would allow me to progress so quickly is testament to the skills I acquired at the UTC."
What advice would you offer to young people considering applying to a UTC?
"Joining a UTC is a fantastic opportunity to apply what you are learning to the real world and meet lots of young people who are interested and engaged in engineering. My advice would be to take the opportunity and have confidence in your ability. When I started at a UTC the thought of presenting in front of an audience terrified me, and now I actually enjoy it."