This Saturday I found myself at the RSGB’s National Radio Centre within Bletchley Park, former Second World War home of the Government Code and Cypher School (now GCHQ) for the third year running. The Radio Communications Foundation, a charity whose aim is to ‘support initiatives to bring radio communications into the classroom, universities and any place where hands-on demonstrations enhance understanding of the world of radio communications’, has run ‘Engineering Experience Days’ for Arkwright Scholars since 2016, in addition to sponsoring two scholars annually.
The Arkwright Trust (soon to be the Smallpeice Trust) awards KS5 scholarships to students applying in Year 11 with a financial award to contribute to their engineering education, as well as the benefits of an early start to their professional networking. These scholarships aim to nurture future leaders in engineering and technical design.
With the Arkwright scholars having already learned the material necessary for their Foundation exam in the afternoon, the day consisted of completing the practical assessments. This involved operating a transceiver on both HF (Martin G3ZAY manned the NRC’s station GB3RS, with scholars speaking to Cyprus) and VHF (Dom M0BLF guided candidates speaking to James 2E0JPM), as well as Morse code appreciation. I took candidates through setting up and dismantling an amateur station and the use of an SWR meter to tune an antenna (in this case, a half-wave dipole for 2m).