We are living through a digital revolution where we have more computing power in our mobile phones than was available to earlier space missions. Modern technology affects our lives more than ever and few people appreciate the technical work that goes into the development of materials, components and systems in the design and manufacture of the products we take for granted.
Our A level is geared towards engineering – specifically electronics and mechanical engineering. We specialise in the academically rigorous stream of Design and Technology called ‘Systems and Control Technology’. This hands-on subject combines computer programming with electronics and mechanical design.
Students develop their creativity and practical skills to a high level. They learn to engage with a design brief and produce a high quality product.
With a heavy coursework element, students enjoy the independence of working on their individual project. Students are free to choose the type of project to undertake, within reason, so can tailor their study to their interests. Projects can be heavy mechanical, heavy electronic/software or a combination of the two. Examples include a reverse geocache, GPS tracker and a mimicking robot arm.
Past students studying design and technology in the Sixth Form have gone on to study: engineering (general, mechanical, aeronautic and electronic), product design, industrial design, computer science and architecture.
- Learning journey
Students cover components, materials, manufacture, design and market influences, and improve their working knowledge of electronics and mechanical prototyping.
With a heavy bias to microcontroller based systems, input and output components are used in the control of complex systems. In addition to electronic prototyping skills, we use the laser cutter extensively to aid precise manufacture of mechanical prototypes. Early on in the course students start on their individual project, where about 50% of the total time will be spent.
Design and technology is not in the first wave of A level exam reform and so will remain on the AS/A2 modular system for those joining the Lower Sixth in September 2016. The A2 course builds upon the AS curriculum with some more electronics and introduces pneumatics for the first time. Early on in the A2 year the students start on their individual project, where they will spend about 50% of the total time.
- Providing stretch
Each year students organise a Technology Show to present their projects to other students, staff and parents. Projects have also been exhibited at national shows.
We run lunchtime and after school coursework clinic: open sessions for students to work on their projects.
We organise visits to give students an insight into the techniques and applications of technology, from visiting companies like Jaguar Land-Rover and Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, to attending engineering shows and design and technology exhibitions.
We encourage wide reading to stimulate intellectual curiosity and develop new interests, understanding and skills. Economics students are encouraged to consider delving into Bloomfield’s How Things Work, Peter Forbes’s The Gecko’s Foot and Natasha McCarthy’s Engineering: A Beginner’s Guide.
- Beyond the classroom
Satellite communication: what does Cambridge have in common with Mount Everest, the endangered rhino and the film Gravity? This fascinating lecture by Richard Traherne, Head of Wireless at Cambridge Consultants is just one example of the technology lectures that form part of our 42 society programme of lunchtime lectures.
The Perse Rocketry Society enables students to design and build of rockets to enter into the UK Youth Aerospace Rocketry Challenge. In 2012 The Perse team won this national competition; the winning prize included a day at Farnborough International Airshow and an all-expenses trip to NASA in Florida.
We run the VEX Robotics society for anyone interested in engineering and robotic control.
DT Club runs drop-in sessions for students to use the equipment under supervision and with help to work on a project, fix a broken item, or make a kit.
- Design and technology at university
Design and technology is an excellent subject for demonstrating design and make aptitude. The experience and outcomes of coursework are very valuable on the UCAS form.
We run CAD competitions that help students develop their portfolio, and provide engineering reading lists.
STEM Society meets weekly at lunchtime to help students intending to study a STEM subject at university to make the links between the different subjects, through visiting speakers, talks by students, presentations from staff, discussion and debate.
Students can count on our 1:1 support in providing advice about engineering courses and in making their university applications.