We're supporting NMITE: the unique school training the engineers of the future
The New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering (NMITE), is a cutting-edge engineering institute designed to hone the engineers of tomorrow. As part of our efforts to change the face of energy, we’re supporting an incredible course NMITE has created to focus on nurturing innovative thinking and hands-on problem-solving skills. Our new partnership starts with a donation to their Women in Engineering Fund to support 2 women on the course and that’s just the beginning. I wanted to tell you a bit more about the great work they do.
Development director, Harriet, has been with the organisation for 5 years and helped usher it to the success it is now. ‘Our mission is to bring a new kind of engineering education to try and get more people from different sorts of backgrounds into engineering and creating socially conscious engineers. Fit for the workplace and fit for the future’.
NMITE’s ethos is to make the world a better place, by overhauling the traditional University system and providing real life applications of complicated concepts.
On any given day, the students might work on a product specification, report or policy work. These are all tasks they’ll come across in their daily jobs, as the goal is to prepare them for these responsibilities.
‘I had a great chat with one of our students the other day, who recently interned at a big engineering firm. They told me they’d spent the day working on a product spec that was almost identical to one we practised in class. They couldn’t believe it and thought it was a big coincidence! But of course, that is intentional and integral to how we teach here. We want all our students to be prepared for the real world.’Harriet
Samsam: Can you tell me a little more about what makes NMITE different from other institutions?
Harriet: In terms of our admissions policy, it is quite radical. We aren’t super strict about which A-levels they require, which we believe is essential in breaking down barriers. Many traditional institutions demand both, and considering that only 23% of women pursue physics at A-level, and 39% of females opt for A-level maths, it’s clear making those a requirement is a barrier for women. Instead, we teach them everything they need to know during the course, and provide as much support as needed. Often, students discover that concepts that made no sense to them in school suddenly click into place because they are applied and contextualised. This is just one of the ways we strive to make engineering more accessible.
Like Octopus, we integrate sustainability and ethics into the core of our work. It’s woven into the fabric of our teaching
Harriet: Inclusivity is at our core. We’re aiming for a gender balance of 50/50 and actively work to attract individuals from diverse backgrounds, including people of colour and those from various socioeconomic backgrounds. For example, we offer big scholarships and bursaries to individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, especially in Herefordshire, where rural poverty is prevalent. Herefordshire ranks in the bottom 20% for social mobility, making it difficult for those born into poverty to escape it. At NMITE, we want to level the playing field.
We have big plans for growth, but we’re currently still a very small university. Which means, each student matters; you’re not just a number here, you’re part of a community. And beyond the University, the local community has rallied around us and supported us and our students, which has been amazing.
Samsam: Can you tell me more about your partnership with Octopus?
Harriet: Octopus is a disrupter and we're a disrupter; there was a natural partnership. We have very similar values in terms of sustainability, diversity, inclusion and changing the status quo to make a difference.
Our work is crucial because education has the power to transform lives and communities. We offer an alternative approach to engineering and people choose us because they understand there is a different way to learn. There is a growing demand for engineers who can think differently, collaborate effectively, and address some of the big climate and structure issues our world is dealing with.
We've got some pretty impressive people on our academic team from all over the world, from America to Singapore, and we’ve managed to create an engineering curriculum that’s unlike anything else.
Our mission is to break down these barriers and welcome as many individuals as possible into engineering, empowering them to make a positive impact on the worldHarriet
I sat down with two NMITE students, Grace and Elyse
Samsam: How did you both first get interested in engineering?
Elyse: My granddad is an engineer and would talk about it all the time. One day, I told him I'd love to study engineering too and he replied 'Women can't be engineers.' He's quite old, but I’m a stubborn person and that just made me want to pursue it even more. Then, in high school, I had an incredible teacher who would have us do super cool engineering projects like making our own cardboard spaceship with flying components. I realised that I was enjoying it while others in my class found it boring; that confirmed engineering would be a good fit for me.
Grace: I wasn't sure what I wanted to do until quite recently. I knew I was interested in either a science-related field or history, even though they seem contradictory – history is about the past, while science is about the future. I thought about medicine for a while because I really want to make a positive impact on someone else's life. Unfortunately, I discovered that I'm incredibly squeamish. Then one day my dad took me to a Women in Engineering Day where I began to realise the immense impact engineering has on the world. Engineers have been responsible for so many breakthroughs in society so that’s why I applied.
Samsam: How’s the course going so far?
Grace: Pretty great, NMITE has a unique approach compared to regular Uni’s. We do quick three and a half week sprints where you dive into a module, tackle assessments, work on projects, then get half a week off to rest.
So far our first year has been all about covering the basics, which is like a warm-up to general engineering. We learned some tools like CAD, Python, MATLAB, and SolidWorks. Plus, they threw in a bit of maths, project management, dealing with documents, industrial reports, health and safety – basically the important stuff you never think about.
Elyse: Our cohort joined in September 2022, and we are now approaching the end of our first year which has been great.. The institution offers an accelerated Master's degree and an accelerated Bachelor's degree, which can be completed in 26 or 38 months, respectively. We’re learning lots and we have smaller classes of about 22 students, so you get a lot of support.
Samsam: What interesting projects have you been able to work on?
Elyse: Now we've covered the basics, we’re getting into more complex stuff. Projects are getting cooler and trickier. For example, in Dynamics, we're teaming up with a forklift company to design this lift thing that doubles as a tilt table for putting forklifts onto lorries.
Grace: We also did a cool project with a company in Malaysia where we dabbled in Python and MATLAB, converting sound waves to binary and ASCII code, and then turning it into a message for a website alert.
Oh and we also got to make an automated water cooling system for a steam engine at the waterworks museum. I was fully functioning but we didn't attach it to the real boiler because blowing stuff up isn't in the curriculum.
You know what's awesome? Getting to work on projects that actually matter. These are real-world situations where our learning comes into play, and it's super satisfying to find solutions that count
Samsam: What’s been the most fun part of the programme?
Elyse: The freedom you get is awesome. Especially when it comes to the challenges, they guide you a bit but it's mainly up to you. We got to learn about thermodynamics and nuclear power and everything that we’re personally interested in. You're figuring things out on your own but at the same time, there is always someone you can turn to for support when you need it, whether it’s about studying, accommodation or even free breakfast to help with living costs.
Grace: Oh, and the factory time is a blast too. I'm all about hands-on stuff – taking things apart, putting them back together. Being able to experiment and create models is awesome. Electronics was another highlight, especially working with 3D printers. It was a first for me, and I loved it. I crafted a bunch of Christmas presents for my family. Talk about a win-win.
Samsam: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt?
Elyse: This experience has made me more socially confident. I used to be super anxious, but working in groups has helped me communicate better. Now, I know everyone in my class personally, which is really cool.
Samsam: What’s next for you both?
Elyse: I took this course because it gives an overview of different engineering fields, as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to specialise in. Now I have a clearer sense of what I like and dislike. I'm leaning towards research and development, but I’m excited to learn more about engineering generally.
Grace: My next step is aiming to become a chartered engineer. I am interested in thermodynamics and green energy to help fight climate change but I’m still deciding. My aim in life is to travel the world while working on engineering projects.
Samsam: Any advice or final thoughts for other students?
Grace: Don't hesitate to seek support!
Elyse: Don't be afraid of anything, really. Uni is a safe place to make mistakes and learn. If we don't put our wild ideas on the table, we'll never know what they could teach us.
Fear is also linked to being a woman in this field. I was the only girl in my college physics class, which made me nervous to ask questions. I didn't want to stand out. But the environment here is supportive and values everyone's opinions, regardless of gender.
Grace: It's kind of funny because I'm probably the girliest dresser in the cohort. In meetings, everyone's in joggers and hoodies, and I'm there in my pink dress.
Elyse: When I first saw her I thought to myself ‘it’s Elle Woods!’ - I loved it!.
It's a balance of being myself whilst doing well in this field. Being girly and excelling as an engineer aren't mutually exclusive!Grace
We're investing in the future of our industry and we're incredibly proud to support NMITE.
If you'd like to know more about them, head to their website.
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