Posted 22 April 2015
I have given the DT students a brief to design a new product that is suitable for the Bentley collection. It is quite a challenge so I can’t wait to see what they come up with. It has been really lovely to be able to return to my old school where it all began for me and to witness the passion the students have for their subject.
A former Harper Adams University student who works as an engineer with iconic British car maker Bentley has returned to his old secondary school to help inspire the next generation.
Ten years after completing his A-levels, James Croxford took a Bentley car to Adams’ Grammar School, in Newport, Shropshire, to launch a design and technology (DT) project.
James, who graduated from Harper Adams University in 2011 with an honours degree in off-road vehicle design, explained: “I have given the DT students a brief to design a new product that is suitable for the Bentley collection. It is quite a challenge so I can’t wait to see what they come up with. It has been really lovely to be able to return to my old school where it all began for me and to witness the passion the students have for their subject. I am looking forward to a return visit soon.”
During the visit to his old school, James was able to tell the students all about the success of Bentley as a company and as a brand and give them the opportunity to see the car and to have a play with all the innovative design features. He also told the students how he became a Bentley engineer.
James’s enthusiasm automotive engineering began during sixth form when he was involved in the Engineering Education Scheme and worked closely with GKN, Telford, on a project to design and manufacture a scale model of a seismic-mass isolated suspension durability test rig.
During his gap year after school he maintained his links with the Engineering Education Scheme and helped to run the Combined Cadet Force at Adams’ Grammar, restoring a Series 2 Land Rover for use on military exercises and cadet training.
Later, he commenced his degree course at Harper Adams University, which included a year in industry. He successfully secured a work placement with Bentley Motors and then a permanent job after graduation. He now works as a Road Load Data Engineer for Bentley and is using his knowledge to guide and inspire future engineers.
“My advice for young people looking for a career in engineering would be to make sure that you get some hands-on experience because that is what makes the difference when applying for jobs,” James added.
“We have been learning all about product design in our DT lessons” said Adams’ Grammar Sixth Form student Alex Hundeyin. “Bentley is simply design at its finest and I couldn’t believe it when I saw the car parked in the school playground. It really is a stunning car with superb craftsmanship and quality. It has been wonderful to have the chance to find out more about both the car and the company. We now have to try and do some great designing of our own.”
The school pupils have also had the opportunity to pull on the business expertise of another local family business, Fenwick. Andrew Jones, Head of DT at Adams’ Grammar, said: “Fenwick is the company behind the UK's best-selling cleaning and care products for caravans, motorhomes and, more recently, bikes – a subject which is very close to our students’ hearts as they were all part of our bike GCSE course last year, designing and building from scratch their very own custom-made bikes.
“Jonathan Smith, the Company Director of Fenwick, has been superb, giving up time to work with the students and to help them to understand the manufacturing process and design pitfalls of packaging as well offering an insight into the marketing process.
“I can’t thank James and Jonathan enough for their wonderful support. They have given the students a really good insight into real life industry as it is today.”