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Because you have the power to support the engineers of tomorrow

Abhijit Pandit’s story shows how your support can supercharge a young engineer’s career. Funding and partnerships open doors to new opportunities, industry contacts and guidance.

Abhijit Pandit is less than a year into his role as a propulsion systems engineer at Thales Alenia Space UK, after completing a master’s in engineering specialising in aerospace and control engineering at The University of Cambridge.

He cites his IET scholarship as the reason he’s in the position he finds himself today, thanks to the exposure and development opportunities it provided him.

“My IET Diamond Jubilee Scholarship was supported by Thales, who went into a joint venture with Leonardo to create the company I now work at. Through the connections I made with Thales via the scholarship, I was able to secure an internship at Thales Alenia Space in my second year of university.

“From there I was able to pursue my master’s project alongside some colleagues, and was later offered my current graduate role,” Abhijit explains.

How an IET award supports up-and-coming engineers

Abhijit first heard about IET scholarships, now known as the Future Talent Awards, through a UCAS newsletter and thought it would be a great opportunity to make industry connections and gain more exposure to engineering. He felt this would be hugely beneficial, as – up to that point – he’d not had much direct industry experience, as is the case for many engineering students.

“The concept of engineering is touched upon at school, but it’s not a taught subject, therefore students can often feel quite daunted entering this world. I think having schemes like the IET’s makes everything a lot less daunting, as you not only receive financial support, but also personal support; from sponsors, mentors and the organisation itself,” he notes.

“Having these relationships with industry professionals allowed me to better navigate this new world, and the internship gave me my first real exposure to the space industry which was hugely important to my engineering education and early career.”

Funding unique career opportunities

As part of Abhijit’s IET scholarship he was awarded £1,000 a year to support his education.

Many scholars use these funds to buy things like a computer or study aids, or to help cover their living costs rather than take on a part-time job. Abhijit, however, used the bulk of his financial award to fund a visiting student research programme at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), something he knows he was very fortunate to be in a position to do.

The programme took place in the third year of his studies and entailed two and a half months working in the JPL’s mission design navigation team in Los Angeles, USA.

“The main focus was on the return of samples from the current Mars rover: Perseverance,” Abhijit says. “I worked on a study looking at what would happen if you arrived at different points on Mars, and the experience was inspirational, exciting and very rewarding.

“This opportunity would not have been possible without the funds from my IET scholarship,” he continues. “Simply put, there’s a lot I’ve already got to experience that I wouldn’t have been able to access without the support financially, or through industrial relationships, that have come from my scholarship. I honestly don’t think I would be in my current role without it.”

Continued engagement

During his time as a student member of the IET, Abhijit attended several talks and lectures virtually, due to the pandemic. Having settled into his new role he’s started to consider how he’s going to pursue more professional development and believes that his involvement with the institution will grow.

He likes to support the industry by undertaking outreach work of his own and is currently mentoring students applying to study engineering at university.

“I always recommend the IET scholarships as they’re a great way to get involved in the industry and have that extra bit of support to get your early career off the ground,” he says.

Your donations inspire and support our engineers of the future

Abhijit points to the need for continued support of such schemes to counter the massive skills shortage the UK engineering industry – and around the world – and asks for others to donate and support more up-and-coming engineers like himself.

“It’s important to encourage young people to pursue a career in engineering to close the skills gap, and those senior engineers or companies that invest in schemes like the IET Futures Fund will see the benefit in the future, when they end up with more highly skilled graduates,” he notes. “It’s win-win all round.”

A message from Thales

“Thales has been supporting the IET’s scholarship and bursary schemes since 2017. These have provided us with excellent opportunities to engage directly with future engineering talent from diverse backgrounds, and we are very pleased to have welcomed Abhijit as an employee of the Thales Alenia Space business. We wish him all the very best in his career ahead.” Colin Scouller, UK Head of Engineering Early Careers, Thales.