Science Experience Week visit to Atkins by Ed Coles, Year 10 at Cheney School

Ed Coles, in Year 10 at Cheney School, joined Oxfordshire Apprenticeships on work experience from 3-7 July. During this week, we were supporting Science Experience Week, which is organised by Science Oxford to give students interested in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) career the opportunity to spend their work experience week visiting 9 different companies. Twenty students from four schools took part. Ed had the opportunity to visit design, engineering and project management consultancy Atkins and take part in the activities the company had organised for Science Experience Week. Here is what Ed had to say about the experience...  

In today’s experience we visited Atkins to learn about what architects and engineers are involved in and what they physically do in a day in the office. Atkins is one of the world’s most respected design, engineering and project management consultancies. They build long-term trusted partnerships to create a world where lives are enriched through the implementation of our ideas. For example the company helped design and construct the Burj al Arab, located in Dubai.

This morning we heard from the members of staff at Atkins and what their roles were in the company. They explained that their jobs were very hands on and they had opportunities to work abroad which looked very interesting. We learnt the qualifications needed in order to become an architect or an engineer. It was clear that these jobs were accessible for people that had a-level qualifications in maths and sciences.

In order to learn about how architects designed a structurally stable building, we had the task to create a tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows. These towers would then be put to the test on all of three things. These were the height of the tower, the sturdiness of the tower and whether it could withstand a model earthquake, and finally if the tower could handle a load without toppling over in order to replicate helicopters landing on the roof of buildings. Our tower won for the sturdiest and could hold a load without breaking. However it was not the tallest.


Next we were sent outside to learn about flood defences. This was all part of engineering ecologically. We were given lego bricks to try to prevent our lego tower from getting flooded. This was simulated by artificial rivers created by taps and banks created with the lego. It was a very exciting activity which got the students to really think strategically about how they could successfully defend their tower.


This very fun day out was all thanks to the extremely kind and engaging staff at Atkins Global. The students, along with the adults, learnt a lot about what the company does and was a great experience for those interested in becoming an engineer or an architect. 

Ed Coles, Year 10, Cheney School