Professor Winston wows our students
Professor Robert Winston delivered a captivating lecture before he cut the ribbon on Alton College’s state-of-the-art £3 million Sonardyne Centre last week. The lecture given to 100 lucky students covered a broad range of topics from iPhone creator Steve Jobs to Shakespeare to Super Mice. The presentation began with Professor Winston marvelling at our evolution and what it is to be human before stating: ‘Ideas are more important than theory’. He added modestly, ‘I’m not frightfully clever and I don’t just work with first class honours graduates’.
According to the Professor, success lies not in individual intelligence but in ‘working as a team’. He warned students that ‘travelling could actually be the biggest catastrophe for humans’ due to the way we can carry germs which mutate to become more powerful. He presented a clip of a genetically modified rodent which ran happily on a treadmill for over four hours (the kitchen mouse lasted minutes) and said ‘there is a downside to science and we must always be responsible for what we make’. He described how science is always pushing boundaries and challenging convention yet will never have all the answers. He said ‘it’s proven that the environment we are in can directly affect not only our genes but our great grandchildren’s’.
After the presentation Professor Winston officially opened The Sonardyne Centre to crowds of staff, students and supporters. He commented that the Centre, built from fundraised capital and donations was a remarkable example of team work and that: ‘If we’re really going to improve and change our society we can only do it by having institutions like Alton College’.
Following the ceremony staff and supporters enjoyed a drinks and canapé reception along with an exuberant tour of the building complete with demonstrations by enthusiastic students.
New Building paves the way for new courses
The opening also saw the launch of an exciting new course. Through a partnership with The University of Portsmouth, students will complete a Foundation Degree in Engineering*, one day a week spread over three years, whilst being employed. For more details please contact Chris Norman 01420 592200 or visit www.altoncollege.ac.uk/adult-education
John Partridge, founder and Chairman of Sonardyne said: ‘I am delighted that Alton College will be providing this course. A grounding in both mechanical and electronic engineering is rare, but enables an individual engineer to tackle the complete design and development of whole products. By this means the UK can accelerate the replacement of products that we now have to import, with products that we can export, which is exactly the way that Sonardyne grew’.
*Subject to validation by The University of Portsmouth.
The Campus looks stunning for Open Evening
The Alton College campus was lit up for Open Evening on Tuesday 26th November. The evening was very well attended and it was a first chance for prospective new students, and future
Engineers, to take a look at the new Sonardyne Centre. There was an excited buzz in the new building as young people from the surrounding schools got a first look at the facilities they will be using when they join the College. Visitors to the Campus were treated to free soup, which was very welcome in the cold weather, and had the chance to enter prize draws for both a mini iPad and a family ticket to next year’s Wings & Wheels air and motor show.
The Sonardyne Centre - nearing completion
The roof is on, the windows are in and the first fix is well underway. The Sonardyne Centre is well on its way to being completed this Autumn. We are really pleased by the progress our contractors, HA & DB Kitchin Ltd, are making and everyone here at the College is enjoying seeing the building evolve week by week.
We are all looking forward to the grand opening in November when our special guest will be Professor Robert Winston. We are planning a series of events to celebrate our new building.
It Is Rocket Science!
The College strives to provide the best opportunities for students studying STEM subjects. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The Alton College Rocket Scientist Programme runs under the tutelage of Dr Penny Marriott and is an extra-curricular activity undertaken by students in their own time. Each student picks an area of scientific research to undertake throughout one academic year. This year’s programme culminated in a Presentation Evening on 27th July when the students presented their findings to parents, supporters and invited guests.
This year our Scientist in Residence, Dr Penny Marriott, the first of her kind in a Further Education college and a leading figure in the scientific research community, has worked with some of our most talented students on a range of cutting edge research projects. At the presentation evening, Dr Marriott and her team of students described what it is like to be Rocket Scientist, explained how they had researched their chosen area and provided a flavour of their findings to-date. This year’s research areas included Dark Matter, Ions and Endorphins, The Evolution of Trees and the Crab Nebula.
Alan Stannah of Stannah Lifts Ltd was the guest speaker at the College’s recent Engineering and Design Technology exhibition. His speech on engaging young people to become the innovators of the future inspired a packed audience before he presented some of the engineers and inventors who have inspired him. The event was also a chance for many of the invited guests to get a first look at The Sonardyne Centre as it nears completion.
Christine Westcott, daughter of the late Peter Mason who, as a professional engineer volunteered his time to mentor and assist engineering students from the College, then presented the Mason Memorial Prize; an award given annually to an outstanding Engineering student, to Heath Townsend.
The exhibition was a chance for both BTEC Engineering and A Level Design & Technology students to present the project they have worked on this year. The standard of work was outstanding.
The College also took the opportunity to inspire future students by inviting local primary schools to visit the exhibition and to take part in a fun engineering activity; constructing bridges out of spaghetti and marshmallows. A group of year 6 pupils from Bordon Juniors visited and year 2 pupils from Wootey Infants also took part.
The children had a chance to talk to College students about the work on show, try out some of the gadgets and vehicles and then had great fun with the building challenge.
Year 2 Pupils from Wootey Infant School with their completed bridge
Heath Townsend receives the Mason Memorial Prize
Year 6 Pupils from Bordon Junior School get engineering
Work pushes ahead on the new building
Construction of the new engineering centre is currently ahead of schedule and on course of the building being ready to use this Autumn. In recognition of the generous support of the Sonardyne Foundation, the new building will be named The Sonardyne Centre.
Lasers, Light, the Internet & Two Nobel Prizes
The College was thrilled to welcome Professor Sir David Payne from Southampton University who presented his lecture "Lasers, Light, the Internet and Two Nobel Prizes" on Friday 15th March. Professor David Payne's work with photonics, in particular the way that light can be amplified over long distances, underpins the internet's infrastructure. Without his work, which began in 1966, the huge flows of information around the world would not be possible. Virtually every fibre used in the world comes from this laboratory at Southampton University.
The Martin Read Hall was full to capacity with priority having been given to students studying STEM subjects. Professor Payne gave an inspiring presentation managing to link complex scientific information to his own personal experiences. He took time after the presentation to meet with many members of the audience and answer questions.
College Hosts Cross Key Stage Design Technology Event
On a sunny Wednesday in March, as part of National Science and Engineering Week, 70 students from local primary and secondary schools came to the College to take part in a Design Technology Challenge. The students worked in mixed age (8-18) teams 10 design and build a motorised model vehicle which they raced at the end of the day. Pictured above is the winning team. Awards were also given for the runners up, the best looking and most technically well designed vehicles. The event, sponsored by local company TechSoft, was a huge success and we hope the new facilities will enable many more similar events to be hosted at the College to inspire future engineers.
Exciting Events for Science & Engineering Week
The College will be hosting a number of events leading up to and during Science & Engineering Week in March 2013.
On Wednesday 13th March 2013 the College will host a Engineering Challenge Day for students from 9-18 years old. Devised by Neil Waite of Eggar’s Schools and the Engineering Department here at the College, groups of students from many of our neighbouring schools will design and build a model vehicle which they will race at the end of the day. Each group will be made up of a mix of students from different schools and key stages. The day hopes to inspire future engineers.
On Friday 15th March a public lecture by Prof Sir David N Payne CBE FRS FREng will be held at the College. Sir David is a pioneer in the development of the internet and will talk about his work on fibre optics, in particular the way that light can be amplified over long distances, underpins the internet's infrastructure. Without his work, which began in 1966, the huge flows of information around the world would not be possible. Virtually every fibre used in the world comes from this laboratory at Southampton University.
More details about this event are available from the College fundraising team.
We are thrilled to be able to recommence construction on our planned Engineering and Design Technology Centre earlier than expected. Our fundraising Appeal has now raised an amazing £2.6m which has enabled building works to restart.
The Centre will now open this Autumn , two years earlier than our 2015 deadline, and will offer the modern engineering workshops, design technology classrooms and electronics facilities the Building Futures Appeal has been striving to provide.
The fundraising continues; we must raise the final £500,000 required to provide state-of-the-art equipment and finishing touches for the next generation of students from across the local area. This is an exciting time for us as our Centre will provide significant educational development for many years to come.
Rylan Lee of the East Hampshire 14-19 Consortium cuts the ribbon on the new plasma cutter last December.
Plasma cutter donated for future engineers
Thanks to the generosity of many sponsors and donors, we have taken another small step towards our new Engineering and Design Technology Centre.
A number of sponsors and donors have been supporting the initiative since its launch, and thanks to East Hampshire 14-19 Consortium and The Roger Brooke Charitable Trust, a new plasma cutting machine has now been added to our existing facilities. The machine, already in use, will enable students to undertake more advanced projects. The Cutter will be moved to the new Engineering and Design Technology Centre when it opens in the Autumn.
Sadly Roger Brooke OBE passed away just before Christmas. We will not forget his kindness to the College and our condolences go out to his family and friends.
Alton Maths Students Retain Title
The regional heat of the UK’s biggest team Mathematics competition for Year 12 and 13 students, the Senior Team Maths Challenge, was won by Alton College for the second consecutive year. They now go on to compete in the National finals which they won last year, beating teams from Harrow School, Westminster School and Eton College.
Ed Kirkby, Rob Carter, James Butcher and Heidi Nicholson of Alton College competed tirelessly for over two hours on a number of difficult mathematics challenges in an attempt to retain the College’s title.
More details about this event are available from the College fundraising team.
Arkwright scholars at Alton College
This September the College welcomed another Arkwright Scholar to the Engineering Department.
Cameron Kavanagh joined the College from Eggar's School in Alton and is studying on the BTEC Level 3 Diploma programme as well as taking an AS in Use of Maths. He first heard about the Arkwright Scholarship programme from an Alton College student at one of the College's open events. He went back to Eggar's fired up with enthusiasm and promptly encouraged the school to register. Cameron received the news he'd been offered one of the sought after scholarships in July of this year.
"When I heard I got it I was so pleased and rang my Dad straight away" Cameron told us.
He went on to explain that he doesn't think about the Scholarship in financial terms (although the additional funds come in very useful) but rather feels he benefits most from the Mentoring Programme and networking opportunities that the scholarship offers. Cameron has Jon Stannah as his mentor and is looking forward to undertaking some work experience with the Stannah Group, key supporters of the Building Futures Appeal, in the near future. Cameron hopes to study engineering at university after finishing at Alton College, with Southampton and Brunel Universities currently top of his list.
The College has welcomed Arkwright Scholars in the past (including Sammy Veck, who is currently studying in the 2nd year of the BTEC Level 3 programme) and is now working with several of our 14-16 Engineering students on their applications to the Trust.
The Arkwright Scholarships Trust administers one of the most prestigious scholarship schemes in the UK. It inspires future leaders in engineering and related areas of design by awarding Arkwright Engineering Scholars support through their Level 3 studies and encouraging students to pursue engineering or related areas of design at university or through a high-quality apprenticeship and to take up careers in the field.
Alton College welcomes Graham Brown of Sonardyne
In June this year, the College Engineering department visited Sonardyne's Headquarters in Yateley, Hampshire. On 28th September we were able to return their hospitality by welcoming one of their Directors, Graham Brown, to give a talk to 1st year BTEC Engineering students.
Sonardyne was officially founded in 1971, initially developing products to improve the safety and efficiency of underwater navigation for divers through innovation in acoustic signal processing, hardware design and custom engineering. Today they are delivering underwater innovation across a myriad of industry sectors. Graham Brown has been a Director at Sonardyne since 2008. He has a PhD from the University of Reading.
Graham spoke sbout the development process, from the initial idea right through to the development and production of a product, with particular reference to the Sentinel Subsea Motion Sensors, developed and produced by Sonardyne. Sentinel is the world's most widely deployed intruder detection sonar system developed to protect port vessels against the threat of underwater attack.