Alumni story – David Callow

David graduated from the UTC in 2017 and went on to study for a degree apprenticeship at the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology before staying on to work at Dyson as a design engineer.


During his time at the Dyson Institute, David studied for a degree apprenticeship – as opposed to a traditional degree. This meant working three days a week alongside Dyson’s global engineering team, whilst studying for an engineering degree from the University of Warwick.


‘Going into electronics or engineering was set in stone for me before I joined, but going to the Dyson Institute wasn’t very conventional,’ he says. ‘The UTC was willing to look into different paths for me. They were willing to push for it and help me in any way possible.’


David says that he’s taken some ‘leaps of faith’ when choosing to move from his school to UTC to study his A levels, and again when he chose to go to the Dyson Institute rather than a traditional university. Both were young institutes when he joined, but those leaps have paid off.


‘I knew a few older people from my school that had moved to the UTC. Talking to them, they were all really enjoying themselves and having a good time. When I went to have a look around, I was struck by how friendly and encouraging it was. Feedback was taken differently and there was more involvement between staff and students. I think my ability to talk to people – especially who’re more senior, or older than me – has really been helped by that, which is good for interviews and my job. Commuting gave me a different insight and perspective into normal working life – it was more reflective of that than school. Sticking to a rigorous timetable was more like a job, which helped when I did my work experience and I felt more independent.’


Whilst at UTC, David studied A levels in maths, further maths and physics, and completed an EPQ, which he highly recommends: ‘it’s good for your CV, and good to think about something different instead of studying!’


David says the EPQ, and work experience with a company called BrainBoxes, also helped him when applying to the Dyson Institute, where they look for interest, passion, and other skills outside of academics. ‘The education is a given, so they’re looking for what sets you aside – work experience and projects,’ says David. ‘They really make a difference.’


Being with us at the UTC gave David the time he needed to work on his application, alongside time for phone and physical interviews. ‘Whenever there was anything that needed doing, they helped me out,’ he says, ‘and it is a lengthy process compared with other universities, including a hefty application form, online tests and in-person assessments.’


Whilst studying at the Dyson Institute, David spent his first two years working in various teams alongside his two days of study, before specialising in his final years. ‘As an undergraduate, I rotated around the company. I was in the robotics team, technical development, electronics hardware, research robotics… the best was working on developing a car. Then, I moved to the solid state battery research team.’


After graduating, David chose to continue working with the solid state battery research team as a design engineer. This specialism has seen him work in the UK, Germany and Singapore, where he currently lives and works, co-leading a design and manufacturing project.


David’s advice to future engineers is to stay curious, be open, and talk: ‘constantly question everything, and when you move into the workplace, do the same. A good engineer is someone who speaks their mind and questions things when they arise.’

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