Image: Michiel Hendryckx / Wikimedia Commons

Warwick, Dyson and Degrees

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Sir James Dyson, the billionaire inventor famed for the bag-less vacuum cleaner, has announced plans to set up the Dyson Institute of Technology, a higher learning institution specifically for the training of young engineers. The Institute, which will hopefully take in its first cohort of engineers in autumn 2017, will aim to provide the UK’s technology sector with fresh engineers. Dyson hopes that his institution will feed an industry in the UK that he claims is starved of young engineers and wishes for the UK to keep bringing in talent from overseas.

As Dyson awaits approval form Department of Education for his institution to become a fully-fledged university, the degree that graduates will receive will be accredited by our very own University of Warwick, in partnership with the ever-networking WMG. The students will spend roughly 80% of their time working alongside established Dyson engineers on training projects as well as upcoming Dyson products. The remaining 20% will be spent in the classroom, occasionally taught by staff from Warwick and WMG. In a similar fashion to Warwick’s engineering courses, the courses at the Dyson Institute will utilise the first two years to teach the students general engineering and bring them all onto a similar level before they choose and pursue a more specific engineering discipline in the last two years such as civil or mechanical engineering.

… the degree that graduates will receive will be accredited by our very own University of Warwick, in partnership with the ever-networking WMG.

This obviously results in a very hands-on degree, one that Dyson hopes will prepare his protégés with the practical skills needed for engineering in the real world (more specifically, engineering at Dyson Ltd., as all graduates will be guaranteed a job at the company). The students will have no tuition fees to pay and will be paid a salary of around £16,000 annually. This sounds like an appealing offer, but it remains to be seen whether Dyson will attract the best young brains in the country.

Dyson admits that students will not get the most ordinary university experience, especially when taking into account the miniscule initial intake of 25 undergraduates. However, he assures future applicants that there will be “alcohol on site”. Good save. As far as location goes, the new facilities will be built at Dyson’s pre-existing campus in Malmesbury, Wiltshire; good for immersing students in their future industry, not so good for getting pissed on a Saturday night. With the closest town, Chippenham, being a rough 30 minute bus ride away the Dyson Institute may be the only university in the UK in a worse location for social life than Warwick.

Speaking of Warwick, with the University lending its name to a new, unproven institution, is our reputation at risk if Dyson’s vision doesn’t go exactly to plan?

Speaking of Warwick, with the University lending its name to a new, unproven institution, is our reputation at risk if Dyson’s vision doesn’t go exactly to plan? The truth is that Warwick is not just donating its name, but also the time of some of our leading professors. An academic failure of the institution would undoubtedly shine WMG and Warwick itself in a bad light. However, with the financial resources and facilities that Dyson has at his disposal as well his company’s position at the forefront of consumer technology, I find it hard to see him failing in the near future.

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