‘Futures Week’ at The UCL Academy

In addition to the many long-established relationships our Academy has with prominent businesses from a variety of industries, we continue year on year to review and expand the list to include those that best support our curriculum, students, and their future in the professional world. All students participate in various events throughout their education focussed on preparing them for life after the Academy, in terms of further study and careers.

One such event is ‘Futures Week’, a 5-day long array of visits from employees representing leading companies in industry, interspersed with exciting activities and tasks throughout. This time was the turn of Foundation students; Dr James Paskins, Deputy Director for UCL’s Grand Challenges programme kickstarted the week with a poignant lecture on the major topics of the programme.

‘Grand Challenges focuses on macro-level world problems that are often very complex and rarely fall into a single academic discipline. Some of the foremost experts at UCL work on a huge range of subjects that fall into six big themes: ‘Global Health’, ‘Sustainable Cities’, ‘Human Wellbeing’, ‘Cultural Understanding’, ‘Justice & Equality’ and ‘Transformative Technology’. Dr James Paskins

After learning about the UCL Grand Challenges and how they might shape the future and inform their ambitions, students embarked upon the rest of their week, listening to and learning from a variety of experts in their field. 

An enlightening and inspirational talk by a Camden STEAM ambassador from Morgan Sindall championing diversity in the construction industry was avidly watched by many of our students. Unsurprisingly for us, many of our students interested in pursuing a career in this field are from backgrounds currently woefully underrepresented in the construction industry. Suffice to say, these visits are pivotal in ensuring all students feel they have equal opportunities in all sectors of the professional world.

Continuing on the construction theme, students were equally enthralled by their session with a representative from Mace. Although computers have greatly altered the construction industry over the last 20 years, improving the 2D and 3D drawing process and allowing complex structural calculations to be performed more efficiently, physical model-making clearly still offers many advantages. Not only does it result in a tangible representation of a design, but as seen in this image, it’s clearly fun to construct. Students used this exercise and medium to learn how building bridges and large-scale engineering projects are planned and implemented.

Still based within the construction industry, but leaning more towards the world of real estate, Lambert Smith Hampton (one of the UK and Ireland’s leading, and most progressive, property consultancies) encouraged our students to think about what makes a good place to live. How ‘balancing a budget’ is important in all sectors of the property industry, be it as a tenant/owner, project manager, estate agent or any of the many other roles in the private and/or commercial sectors. Learning about careers in real estate with a team from Lambert Smith was greatly enjoyed by many of our students, with many of them now aware of roles they never knew existed. 

Yet more invaluable preparation for their future outside of the Academy was given by a team of role models volunteering for ‘Inspiring the Future’. This Camden-based group spoke to students on an individual basis, encouraging them to face their fears and talk about their greatest achievements. These discussions with relatable role models with different life experiences are aimed at helping students see the relevance of classroom learning to their futures, boosting their motivation and attainment, and broadening their horizons while giving them first-hand practical advice about the world of work.

Last, but not least was the Sustainable Careers Fair by The Camden Clean Air Initiative, whose work aims to increase awareness of air pollution and educate residents, schools, and businesses on the associated dangers. 

Our sincere thanks to all those involved in making ‘Futures Week’ at the Academy the roaring success it was. All visits, as always, were greatly appreciated by students and staff alike and have already positively impacted the way in which our students are considering their futures in the professional world.

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