The foundation has added £1 million to its fund in order to support those without the means to go to university and begin a career in design or engineering.
James Dyson, creator of the Dyson vacuum cleaner, fears that the UK is lagging behind in the above mentioned areas: “Studying design and engineering is costly. But it’s vital. We don’t produce enough engineers to get the country out of economic doldrums with new technology. The challenge is ensuring the best don’t drop out in favour of banking careers.”
Echoing the concerns of the CBI, the government and other figures in the manufacturing industry, Dyson laments the fact that the UK only produces 24,000 engineering graduates a year, compared to 300,000 in China and 450,000 in India.
UK students are often “priced out” of postgraduate research posts due to debts accrued as an undergraduate and the continually rising cost of living. Four postgraduate bursaries, of £25,000 per year, will be available to students at the University of Bath, Bristol, Corpus Christi Cambridge, and Imperial College London from September 2011. They will be awarded to students who show a passion for engineering, accounting for academic excellence and financial need.
The foundation will provide £60,000 to five of the top design and engineering universities, including the Royal College of Art (RCA) and Loughborough University, supporting specific projects that show technical excellence and innovation. One major benefit of the funding is that students are able to develop ideas further, and then get help to commercialise them.
Last year the foundation made a donation of £5m to the RCA aimed at helping to fund a new building in London. The new building will provide a lecture theatre, gallery space, studios and 40 business incubator units. The idea is that it will encourage the UK’s next generation of design engineers to start their own ventures.