Construction engineering student Jonathon Madden has been able to start building his career thanks to some shrewd decision making. Not only did he manage to secure a last minute place on an engineering foundation degree course at Kingston University through Clearing in 2006 but, unlike most students, Jonathon has the added advantage of having his course financed by a scholarship from a major industry player.
"My father started out his career in telecoms engineering and both my grandfathers were mechanical engineers, so it's probably fair to say I have engineering in my blood," Jonathon explained. "Even as a small boy, growing up in Cambridgeshire, I loved building things out of kits, helping my father put up fences and construct walls." It hadn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone when Jonathon had announced that he too wanted to pursue a career in engineering.
After achieving good A-level grades Jonathon was able to secure a place on a standard engineering degree programme at another university, but realised within the first year of his studies that the course he had chosen was heavily theoretical and didn’t suit his practical preferences at all. Not being one to give up easily and using his initiative, Jonathon applied for a place on a scholarship programme run by Surrey-based construction company Edmund Nuttall. The 23-year old had already been working for Nuttalls in Cambridgeshire as an engineering assistant during his summer break from university. He was offered a scholarship, conditional upon him being able to secure a place at university. Getting straight on the phone, Jonathon was put through to Bill Evans in the Faculty of Engineering at Kingston University for a chat about his grades, and was delighted when he was offered one of the clearing places available on a two-year foundation degree programme.
“For me, there were several advantages to doing a foundation degree," Jonathon said. “I knew I would be happiest on a course that focused on site work and vocational, hands-on study. It also made financial sense for me to find a scholarship, especially as I have two younger sisters and my parents will have to pay for their education." This has meant that he has been able to study for two years without getting into debt. "I couldn’t have done any of this without the invaluable advice provided by Kingston and without the faith placed in me by my sponsor."
As well as working hard, Jonathon has also embraced university life to the full, and sees joining sports clubs and societies as an important part of being a student. "Kingston really encourages sporting activities," he said. "I'm a member of Kingston University Rugby Club – I’ve been playing since I was 12 years old – and not only have I made good friends but I now also share a flat with one of my team mates." Being a member of a club could also make your curriculum vitae more attractive to future employers, he said. "I'll be on the rugby club committee next season where I’ll be looking after the new intake of first year members which will give me invaluable administrative experience," he added.
Edmund Nuttall has wasted no time in giving Jonathon the opportunity to put the skills he has acquired at Kingston to good use. He is currently working as a site engineer on a Nuttall waste management project near Cambridge. "I'm responsible for foundation work and piling, which involves overseeing the installation of giant concrete columns," explained Jonathon.
Jonathon now hopes to build on these firm foundations by taking his career to another level, again through work-based learning, by doing a year’s top-up to a full Bachelor of Engineering qualification in construction. His aspirations are reflected in his advice to students facing a similar dilemma over their results this summer. "Don't panic, just make sure you get onto the right course at the right place for you. Once you feel comfortable about your course, then the rest will all fall into place," he said.