Ashwin Needham has found the sky is the limit since taking up a place at Kingston University through Clearing. The 26 year old, from Wimbledon, went from working in a bar to designing a rocket which could whizz 7,000 feet into the air. He hopes the new skills he is acquiring while studying engineering will stand him in good stead for getting an interesting career when he graduates.
The engineering student decided to give education another go after originally dropping out of a mechanical engineering degree at Nottingham University when he was 18. “I just don’t think I was ready to study at that age,” he said. After a string of bar jobs he decided to re-sit his A-level maths exam at Albion College in London. “I hadn’t really thought about going to university so I hadn’t applied through UCAS but when I got my result I was really pleased,” he said. “This time around I wanted to stay near my family and friends in Wimbledon. I’d heard Kingston had a good reputation for engineering so I rang their Clearing hotline.”
After speaking to a student adviser, Ashwin was put through to an academic in the Faculty of Engineering and offered a place on the spot. He has now just completed the first year of a degree in aerospace engineering with astronautics and space technology. “I’ve met lots of great people since I’ve been here and the course is a good mix of practical and theoretical work,” he said. “We made an aircraft wing and tested the weight it could take as one part of the course which was fascinating.”
Ashwin has also joined the University’s Rocket Club where he gets to put his theoretical skills to practical use. Armed with plastic tubing and rocket-building kits, club members each had to design their own rockets. “Once we’d designed them we took them down to a farm to practice,” Ashwin explained. “They went so high we had to get air space clearance. Mine went to 7,000 feet. It was fantastic seeing something I’d made from scratch soar so high.”
Ashwin said he hadn’t found it a disadvantage coming to university in his mid-20s and would advise other students who perhaps gave up on university in their late-teens to give it a go. “I would definitely say consider education,” he said. “At first it was interesting staying behind when my friends went off to university but I found myself at a bit of a dead end in terms of jobs. I’ve not finished the course yet but I’m hoping it will really help my chances of getting a job. I’m not sure what I want to do when I leave university but I’d be interested in doing something in the aerospace or space industry. I don’t think it matters coming to university when you are a bit older – I don’t think anyone has even noticed!”
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