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The James Dyson Foundation

The James Dyson Foundation hosted a comprehensive and inspiring training day at the Dyson Institute in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. This was facilitated and in partnership with the Design and Technology Association. The institute is currently a member of the associations’ Blueprint 1000 scheme which aims to connect industry with education.

It was fantastic to be able to host the session in their impressive facility. The striking glass-fronted building is a hub for undergraduate engineers to work alongside the Dyson Technology Global Engineering team whilst studying for their BEng (Hons) Engineering degree apprenticeship awarded by the Dyson Institute. The large grounds also included some very lavish modular accommodation for first-year students.

The full-day session was offered free of charge and was attended by 21 delegates who were comprised of Secondary School teachers from across the country. Spaces were limited on the course, so these were offered on a first come first serve basis and spaces filled up exceptionally quickly.

The day kicked off with an introduction to The James Dyson Foundation by Danya Walker who is Project Manager at the Institute. She explained what the James Dyson Foundation is and what they have to offer schools to assist in teaching and inspiring the future generation of engineers. The James Dyson Foundation is the charitable arm of the company that aims to introduce young people to the exciting world of engineering.

This initial introduction was then followed by training delivered by D&TA Trainer Ryan Ball and The Design and Technology Association. Ryan detailed the importance and future of Design and Technology – opening up briefs at KS3 and allowing a greater amount of creativity in the student’s outcomes rather than being restricted by a project-based curriculum.

Delegates learned how to create an innovative, exciting KS3 Curriculum with problem-solving at the core as well as how to contextualise KS3 with industry links to cultivate further engagement.

The day generated a lot of discussion among all of the delegates on how to take Design and Technology teaching forward and the best way to ensure it stays firmly on the curriculum.

The session included hands-on activities to break down problems, based on James Dyson Foundation projects as well as modelling activities incorporating microcontrollers.

The day also included a guided tour of the Dyson Institute offices and the facilities at their disposal to look at where the engineers work and gain inspiration. This behind-the-scenes tour didn’t include some of the top-secret sections which stayed elusively behind closed doors.

It didn’t stop there, and the group received engaging talks by Dyson engineers including Julian Bond who outlined his role and how he got into Engineering. They also received a talk from Institute lecturer Mojdeh Mardani who went into detail about the institute, how it works, how students can apply, what they will study, and why it differs from most of the other ways to obtain an engineering degree. A large benefit being that they are not just teaching them the Maths and Physics needed to understand engineering but showing them how to apply and utilise this knowledge.

Ben Edmonds ‘Innovation Ben’ and Engineer at Dyson talked passionately about how important he sees Design and Technology. He explained how he feels it should be taught in schools and how students should be encouraged with creative tasks and challenges. Ben also talked us through how prototypes and problem-solving is integral to the engineering process at Dyson.  

There was a real buzz around the room with the fantastic, enthusiastic teachers playing a key role in the day. Feedback has been incredibly positive from all parties who feel that they got a lot out of the experience.

Attendee Martin Wesley from Plymouth College remarks, What a brilliant course, I have come a way reinvigorated for my subject and something I have needed for ages. All the talks from the engineers and lecturers were fantastic!”

Delegates also made use of supply cover teacher from the Design and Technology Association so they could attend the event safe in the knowledge that their class was well covered.