Oundle School staff and pupils welcomed multi-championship winning Formula 1 engineer and team principal, Ross Brawn OBE, for a private visit to its emerging Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Campus, known as SciTec. He spent time in the now partially-opened extension to the Patrick Engineering Centre, where he saw Oundle’s capabilities at first hand and spent time hearing about pupils’ experiences of engineering at Oundle.
Following his visit, he spoke to some 130 guests of Oundle School at the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) in London on the evening of 28th April. The audience comprised current and former parents and Old Oundelians (OOs), who came together to celebrate the development of Oundle’s vision for the future of STEM education, and a so-far strong fundraising effort. Staff from Oundle’s Design and Technology Department were on hand to demonstrate some of the cutting edge equipment needed for the new facility and two cars, built by Oundle pupils whilst at School, were displayed in the RAC’s foyer.
Oundle’s Head, Mrs Sarah Kerr-Dineen, thanked Mr Brawn for his support of Oundle’s SciTec vision, and said, “We are honored that Ross has taken such a deep interest in our SciTec Campus project, and so strongly affirmed our vision for the future of school-aged STEM education.”
The event also set out the case for further charitable support for the building, with a focus on the equipment required to make it the cutting-edge facility that the School has envisioned. Mr Brawn asserted that the new SciTec Campus would offer some of the finest facilities for teaching STEM to be found in the UK.
Commenting on his visit, Mr Brawn said, “I was delighted to have the opportunity to see first-hand the first-class facilities that Oundle School are creating and to meet some of their pupils who have benefitted from the first phase of this project” said Ross, “and by doing so, ensuring that they continue to inspire and encourage pupils to pursue careers in engineering and therefore doing their part to address the large annual shortfall of British engineers.”
Once completed, Oundle hopes to become a recognised hub for leadership in STEM education both regionally and nationally, widening the benefit delivered by its new facilities. A new partnership with Imperial College, London, will see a range of local schools bring their pupils to carry out hands-on projects, the first of which - a ‘Space Challenge’ - was held at the School on the afternoon of the RAC dinner.
Matthew Dear, Director of Development for Oundle School, commented, “We are deeply grateful to Ross for giving up his time to visit Oundle and to speak to OOs, parents, and pupils, and to join us so willingly in our call for further philanthropic support for the final stages of the project, including the all-important procurement of cutting-edge equipment. Our nurture of the leading engineers of the future, and our new partnership with Imperial College, which sees us acting as a regional ‘STEM hub’ for pupils from both the independent and state sectors, demonstrate the far-reaching benefit that donations to the project are already achieving.”
The development of the SciTec Campus (due to open in September 2016) completes Oundle’s original vision for the award-winning science complex of SciTec which was built in 2007. It sees the construction of a new Mathematics department, new Science labs and a complete refurbishment of the Patrick Engineering Centre. It will link Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, providing state-of-the-art facilities for tomorrow’s scientists and engineers.
The aim is to provide ‘practical hands-on experience’, with pupils able to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of workable technology, whilst embracing new fields such as nanotechnology and mechatronics.
Former pupil (Old Oundelian) and major donor, Alex Patrick CBE commented, “Since the Victorian Era, Great Britain has excelled in producing some of the world's greatest scientists, engineers and innovative thinkers. William Sanderson, Headmaster at Oundle School from 1892-1922 recognised this in the early part of the 20th Century and pioneered education in science and engineering at the School. Many pupils who attended the School because of such aspirations have gone on to become the technological leaders of their generation.
As an Old Oundelian I always enjoyed my time in the school workshops. Today's pupils continue to experience this opportunity and it is for this very reason that I, and my family trust, are committed to the further development of the Oundle SciTec Campus. In so doing I hope to help ensure that Oundle remains at the forefront of schools, providing the facilities by which we can inspire future innovators at an early stage in their career development.”
Head of Oundle School, Sarah Kerr-Dineen, commented, “The completion of the SciTec Campus will bring to life in the heart of the School a vision to inspire all pupils, and to create the engineers and industry leaders of tomorrow.”
In addition to Academic Scholarships, the School offers two Scholarships for Design and Technology, one at 13+ and one at 16+. Entry forms and further details are available on the admissions section of the School website: www.oundleschool.org.uk .