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How the IET Futures Fund is supporting engineering students and apprentices

Many described the loneliness and isolation of studying wholly online and with health fears for themselves and their families.

They told us watching IET webinars, Local Network events and STEM volunteers’ opportunities such as virtually judging FIRST®LEGO® League tournaments have helped support students and bring a sense of community as well as provide some relief from worries about rent and food.

How do these scholarships and bursaries impact recipients?

Eight years after the first undergraduates received a Diamond Jubilee Scholarship and five after the first Engineering Horizons Bursary was awarded, we are celebrating these successful programmes and looking ahead to the future.

Intended to support undergraduates and apprentices through their engineering studies and into their first steps in the sector, there are now hundreds of graduates from these sister programmes making their mark in companies from start-ups to the biggest household names.

By the end of summer 2021, 72% of those who graduated or completed their apprenticeship that year were employed in or had gone on to postgraduate study in engineering and technology.

This figure rises to 89% of those who graduated between 2017 and 2020.

Ikrame Bezzaid, Biomedical Engineering student and IET Engineering Horizons Bursary recipient said: “It is undeniable the IET bursary played a huge role in my recent academic achievements.

“The boost of confidence and self-esteem I experienced being chosen to receive this award is indescribable and really helps tackle imposter syndrome. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity.”

In return, award recipients have put in thousands of hours of voluntary work running STEM programmes, tutoring young students, being role models and even founding their own charities.

For many, the close association with the IET continues, serving as volunteers in many different capacities.

Who supports us?

We haven’t done this alone. Originally funded solely by the IET, since 2014 37 companies, charities and individuals have joined us in supporting both the scholarships and bursaries.

Graham Tubbs CEng FIET and his wife Kathleen have personally supported 11 students and apprentices since 2016, many from his beloved South Wales. He succinctly said: “We are making an impact on engineering students' lives.”

A number of large engineering companies also support our scholarships and bursaries, with Thales funding five engineering students.

Dr Paul Gosling FREng FIET, CTA of Thales, said: “As a company producing cutting edge technology we need to go out and seek talented individuals who may not otherwise find us.

“As a parent, I recognise how hard it is for young people to put themselves through studies now compared to when I was a student.”

The future of the awards

In 2021, we were delighted as we reached our milestone of making our 1500th award at the end of our 150th anniversary.

Since then we have reflected on the changing needs and concerns of our sector and wider society. We want to build on the success of what we already offer to students and apprentices starting out on their careers and so from this year there will be one award programme called the IET Future Talent Awards.