PGC ‘What's Next?’ Fair - Learning about Dyson

Recently, the PGC held an event at College called ‘What's Next?’ which had three sections:

  • A personal statement talk
  • A talk from Guild members
  • The Higher Education Careers Fair

I enjoyed the first two sessions, but I was particularly interested in the Higher Education Careers Fair. I had researched the organisations that were coming to the fair and I was particularly interested in the Dyson stand.

Apprenticeships and polytechnics are out of favour in the UK and most students prefer to select university courses. However, I read a statement in the news about a business owner who described taking on graduates and having to retrain them for a year in order to apply their degree to the real world - they had come out of university unable to fully grasp their job.

I am interested in engineering with a strong practical focus and I am attracted by some of the American institutions (MIT for instance, although it is very hard to get into) and the DIET program (Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology). The DIET programme has the added advantage of combining paid employment with a degree program that is run by the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG). Students get about 27 days holiday a year and it seems to be 24/7 working at other times!

The syllabus does not yet have a business component and it is not as flexible as the US polytechnic universities, however the apprenticeship offers a unique perspective on an innovative organisation. Dyson is relatively secretive (as they have had quite a lot of ideas stolen) so it is hard to get photos of the work that they do or to visit the site.

The good news is that behind the lack of pictures and social media there is a serious engineering effort, and they anticipate very strong growth in a world where software has started to transform hardware companies. Dyson and the DIET team are not a stagnant company - they have recently purchased an additional 571 acres at a site near Hullavington for future R&D activities. Apparently, Sir James Dyson himself visits the DIET team about once a week, which impressed me because I believe the CEOs that practically sleep in a snoozy sack at the end of their production line run the companies that are the most exciting!

I visited the Dyson stand with a friend and talked to Maede, who was a Dyson engineer. She used the new Dyson hair drier as a prop and conversation drifted to my friend's work on batteries during the holidays, car design and beyond. Maede put me in touch with several other Dyson staff and I look forward to discovering more about Dyson over the summer.

Megan (SFC1)