Elis wins bursary to study engineering

Elis Thomas, a former pupil at Cyfarthfa High School and The College Merthyr Tydfil, is the first recipient of a Panasonic Trust higher education bursary, awarded by the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Welsh Valleys Engineering Project.

The new award, worth £15,000 over three years, is funded by the Panasonic Trust to support eligible students from Coleg Gwent and The College Merthyr Tydfil as they progress from A Levels and BTECs to study degree-level engineering at a UK university. Elis is currently studying a foundation year in engineering at Cardiff University, prior to starting a three-year degree in engineering.

Elis said: “I’m really pleased to be given this award and really enjoying my foundation year studying engineering at Cardiff University. There are so many things you learn about in engineering that can lead to interesting jobs. I’m excited to find out what I enjoy.”

This isn’t the first time Elis has impressed with his enthusiasm for engineering, being a previous winner of a Panasonic Trust Future Engineers Award through the Project.

Lynda Mann, Head of Education at the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “Elis is an incredibly personable and outstanding engineering student, and we are thrilled to have him as an ambassador for the Welsh Valleys Engineering Project. He is a fantastic role model and an inspirational figure for our students, particularly when it comes to engaging them in engineering education. We are so pleased to be able to recognise Elis’ hard work and dedication with this award”.

Carl Pocknell, Chair of the Panasonic Trust, said “The objective of the Trust is to support the advancement of education and training in engineering—we want to change lives. The Welsh Valleys Engineering Project is about providing opportunities to those who might otherwise not realise their potential and abilities to make a career in engineering possible. Having met Elis, it is clear from both his enthusiasm and ability that he will be successful in making a career in engineering”.

The Welsh Valleys Engineering Project is a long-term project funded by the Welsh Government and the Panasonic Trust and delivered by the Royal Academy of Engineering. It was launched in 2018 and originally worked with 13 primary and secondary schools across Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil as well as Coleg Gwent and The College Merthyr Tydfil. The project inspires and encourages students to take up STEM subjects in post-16 education, enabling them to access engineering career pathways.

“It does this by enriching the curriculum, enhancing pupil engagement and, crucially, through work with local STEM employers, bringing real-world engineering practice into schools. Recent funding from the Tech Valleys Programme of the Welsh Government has allowed the scheme to draw on best practice from its employer engagement activities and expand the Project to all 54 schools in the region.

The number of companies working with the Welsh Valleys Education Project through its employer engagement strand has successfully increased over the years and currently includes: Concrete Canvas, Continental Teves, General Dynamics, JC Moulding, Lightsource BP, Morgan Sindall, National Digital Exploitation Centre, Ore Catapult, Panasonic, Peter Evans ILG, Safran Seats, Tata Steel, Thales, Wild Connect, and Zimmer Biomet.

It is estimated that over the last five years the Project has delivered more than 25,000 STEM learning opportunities, 500 hours of teacher CPD and 1000 interactions between engineers, local employers and teachers. The Project has managed to encourage the participation of equal numbers of girls and boys, and over 50% of Panasonic Trust Future Engineers bursaries were awarded to female students in the 21/22 academic year.