The UKESF’s 10th Anniversary: Creation of the Foundation – Wendy Daniell Interview
WENDY DANIELL, FORMER PROGRAMME DIRECTOR
You were recruited to set up and run the UKESF when working for the University of Bristol. What attracted you the role?
“For many years, I had enjoyed being involved in projects designed to engage the general public in appreciating the value of engineering research to society. Many of these projects focused on enthusing school pupils about the world of engineering and encouraging them to think about future careers and degree study in engineering.”
What are your memories of getting things off the ground?
“Our first step was to put together a working group made up of representatives from industry, academia and the public sector to identify the root causes for this skills shortage and to design a programme of activities to address the issues. My first memories are of arranging and attending meetings all around the UK to engage with potential stakeholders for this group. Once the group was formed, we had a series of day-long meetings, which resulted in a proposal for the UKESF.”
The Scholarship Scheme is the core of the UKESF, can you tell us a little about how the programme was created and what your hopes for it were?
“It was based on a well-established model, with companies providing undergraduate students with an annual bursary and summer work placement, but the UKESF Scheme was targeting the top students at leading UK universities so needed to offer something more. The main distinguishing feature was sponsorship to attend a residential professional development workshop, providing the opportunity to meet and hear from industry leaders and to network with Scholars from other universities.
“Our hopes were that the UKESF Scholarship Scheme would firstly contribute to an overall increase in top quality applicants for Electronic Engineering degrees. Industry engagement with the Scheme would then follow, with many companies building relationships with Scholars and attracting them into the sector upon graduation. Ultimately, we hoped our Scholars would be become the next generation of leaders in the Electronics sector.”
Do you have any particular highlights from your time as the UKESF Programme Director?
“There were many highlights but the most memorable is the very first Scholar Workshop for our first cohort of undergraduates. There I meet with 15 exceptional young people who engaged fully with the week’s programme. They impressed not only the course tutors but more importantly our key speakers from industry, who included CEOs and senior executives from Partner Companies. It was a joy to see how the senior industry presence really made the Scholars feel valued.”