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Last Updated: Monday, 10 July 2006, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Dyson school 'to boost engineers'
A child's view of engineering
Mr Dyson says children think 'engineers' simply mend things
Inventor and entrepreneur James Dyson plans to set up a new style of school aimed at encouraging young people to consider engineering careers.

The Dyson School of Design Innovation in Bath would be a state school for 2,500 youngsters aged 14 to 18.

Half the estimated 22m costs would come from the James Dyson Foundation, the rest from the government.

Mr Dyson said the UK was no longer a centre for engineering and was at risk of losing out to China and India.

He said: "If we want to continue in the footsteps of Brunel, to innovate and engineer exciting and useful products, we need to start with education."

He added: "Our choice now is either to see Britain's jobs of tomorrow vanish to Mumbai or Shanghai or to educate the next generation in the skills of invention and business-building."

Creating things

He said a survey had suggested two thirds of young people would have liked to have studied engineering at GCSE level had they been offered the chance.

I'v always been creative but I didn't know where to channel this
Carrieann Heath

The 14 to 16-year-olds at the school, due to open in 2008, would attend one day a week while those aged 16 to 18 would attend full-time.

"The idea is to give children an introduction to engineering and to excite them as to what engineering can do," said Mr Dyson.

"It's not just about repairing things, it's about creating interesting things that can go on to establish big businesses and profit-earning things for this country."

He added: "Our balance of payments is getting worse by a billion every year so in simple terms we will become a poorer nation.

Atrium view of planned college
The school's atrium would feature prototypes to inspire students

"But also we will become an unfulfilled nation.

"We have got this tremendous heritage of Brunel and so on - Mitchell doing the Spitfire."

Leading engineering firms Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Formula One's Williams Racing would also be involved.

Engineers from the firms would give talks to the students, who would also be able to visit the sponsors to see their work first-hand.

Director of engineering for Williams, Patrick Head, said: "I think a school focusing on design innovation will be very beneficial.

"It is in this area that we must develop our strength and talents for the future, particularly in the face of the developing Asian manufacturing economies."

Centre of Excellence

Architects Wilkinson Eyre are working with consulting engineers Buro Happold to design a sustainable building.

The school's design would also feature prototypes from its sponsors in its atrium to inspire students.

As a National Centre of Excellence, the school also aims to offer residential holiday courses and provide teachers with specialist modules as well as open opportunities for adult learners.

Skills minister Phil Hope said the "exciting" project had great potential.

He said: "It will represent a real boost for young people, the engineering sector and industry regionally."

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