[A] Furness College student who is adding a degree in engineering to his degree in English has been awarded a prestigious national prize worth £10,000.
Josh Ashley won a Whitworth Scholarship from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and was presented with his prize in a glittering ceremony at Westminster.
The 26-year-old, who lives in Barrow, is studying a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering on the Channelside campus following his HNC.
The degree, endorsed by Lancaster University, is his second after having studied English Language and Literature at Oxford University.
Joshua said he was flattered to receive the award, worth £2,500 per year towards his four year degree programme, which is open to time-served applicants who are going on to study engineering at undergraduate level.
“It’s really encouraging to be recognised in a career choice that it took me quite a long time to come round to. I feel that the award gives some assurance that I’m doing the right thing,” he said. “Hearing about the things that other award winners had achieved in their careers was a real eye opener and certainly provides impetus to strive to improve, in work and out.”
Whitworth Scholarships are the legacy of famous engineer and 19th Century apprentice Sir Joseph Whitworth who wanted to encourage technicians and apprentices to purse an academic engineering degree. More than half of the recipients go on to gain first-class honours degrees.
Josh, who is a member of Barrow and District Association of Engineers, said he had been encouraged to apply by a previous award winner and colleague Jamie Falcon, who has now become a Whitworth Scholar. “All being well, I’ll be able to do the same in a few years’ time,” he said.
Josh said he had been supported by his tutors and Kate Colebourn who heads up the engineering department at Channelside as well as his employer and encouraged other apprentices to consider Higher Education.
“I’d absolutely encourage any apprentices thinking of embarking on a degree to think about applying,” he said. “Part of the selection process involves an interview by several members of the Whitworth society who are likely to be experts in their field. Though it’s intense, it’s an opportunity you probably wouldn’t get otherwise and is definitely worth it.”
Kate Colebourn said: “The Whitworth Scholarships are only awarded to the most dedicated students who have not only completed an apprenticeship but have the academic skills and personality to succeed as leading engineers within industry. Josh is not only a very deserving recipient he is a valued member of our student community and through his commitment to pursue a degree he’s a real role model to apprentices.”