Learning new tricks in engineering

The advanced diploma in engineering gives you hands-on experience

Diplomas have burst onto the scene promising all kinds of opportunities to make your education better fit your interests. It is easy to see how a diploma in business or construction could help your future career and prosperity, but it may be harder for some to see what a diploma in engineering provides. The truth is that a career in engineering can take you to exciting places both in the UK and abroad.

Engineering shapes our lives subtly yet constantly, from providing hot water in the shower in the morning to catching the train home.Without engineering there can be no technology, energy supplies or transport. This underpinning of society also means that engineering is fairly resilient when economic times get tougher. Certainly some firms experience hardship, but engineering as a sector always wins through. So if you want economic resilience and the chance to work on things that matter to people everywhere, the advanced diploma in engineering could be your next step.

The advanced diploma is brand new, having been launched only this year. As with A-levels, it is a two-year, full-time course and can get you into university to study engineering – as long as you study the required maths units – or lead to a job.

The advanced diploma has nine core units; some will be familiar to A-level students, as they cover the usual array of facts, figures and theory. However, the other units are all about what engineers actually do with their careers.They are about computerised design and the latest methods for manufacturing products, from the mass-manufactured electrical goods in every home to bespoke pieces of high-tech hardware designed to solve a practical problem in a hospital. They are about engineering as an innovative business tool, and the process of keeping things moving and maintained.

The advanced diploma in engineering is currently offered in about 60 towns and cities in England, but that will double next year.This relatively slow beginning is deliberate, so that schools and colleges have time to build up the elements they need to teach the more innovative parts of the course.These are the things that bring the subject of engineering to life, linking it to real-life engineering firms and engineers, as well as a number of university departments.

Out go the old-fashioned notions of students lined up in rows in classrooms being dictated to by a schoolmaster; in comes work-related learning, relevant work experience, teamwork and problem solving, plus an extended project where diploma students get to do real engineering with a real purpose. All this makes for a pretty varied life for the advanced diploma student: sometimes they will be in school and other times in their local college to use specific equipment or hear the views of further-education lecturers and engineers. They will also visit the local university, where the multi-disciplinary nature of engineering can be explored. After all, it is a combination of material science, maths, physics, design, electronics and project management. Students also have the opportunity to visit the workplace, seeing how things really happen in the industry.

Because teaching locations vary during the week, the learning process does too. Students on the advanced diploma will use a range of learning styles, such as observation, discussion, teamwork and individual work.

Assessment varies too: seven of the nine core units are based on an assignment, while two units have a final exam.The extended project is assessed on the basis of a final report, and there is room for additional and specialist learning too. This is assessed by both exam and assignment.

The advanced diploma provides the variety and choice that 16- to 18-year-olds need in order to direct their learning. Remember: engineering could be your future. If you do well, you could be the next Isambard Kingdom Brunel or end up designing the MP3 player that surpasses the Apple iPod; all the more reason to find out about your options today.

Matthew Harrison is director of education programmes at The Royal Academy of Engineering. For more information, visit www.direct.gov.uk/diplomas

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree have recently been awa...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £21000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: As a graduate you are...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate / Junior Software Developer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate/Junior Software Deve...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot