SciTec campus gets boost

A major donation from the Michael Uren Foundation has enabled Oundle School to make further investment in science and engineering

Oundle School has received a half-a-million-pound donation to launch its fundraising campaign to complete the final development phase of its SciTec campus. SciTec, an award-winning science complex, was opened in 2007 with 16 state-of-the-art science laboratories. This second and final phase, incorporating both a new mathematics department and a significant refurbishment of the Patrick Centre, will bring together science, mathematics, design, technology and engineering. Pupils will be able to move from theory to practice and from pure science to workable technology, while embracing new fields such as nanotechnology and mechatronics.

The donation has come from the Michael Uren Foundation. Michael Uren OBE and his other trustees seek to encourage the education of engineers and development of engineering within the UK. Oundle has long been recognised as one of the foremost science and engineering schools in the country. The heritage of Frederick William Sanderson, headmaster of Oundle from 1892-1922, is of practical, hands-on, machine-driven engineering and throughout most of the last century the school’s DT workshops were home for part of every term for every pupil. This reputation remains strong: many pupils who attended the school because of such aspirations have gone on to success in technology-related careers.

One of Michael’s main objectives is to help to create the engineers and entrepreneurs of the future and his donation for the SciTec campus reflects his support for the school’s vision. The SciTec project has now reached the fundraising stage and he hopes that his donation will start the ball rolling, enabling works to commence in early 2015 and be completed by summer 2016.

Michael Uren said: “This wonderfully exciting project places Oundle where it should be – one of the foremost engineering schools in the country. The UK needs engineers and entrepreneurs if it is to compete and succeed in the future. We are delighted that my foundation can assist Oundle to achieve its fundraising dreams of completing the SciTec campus and enhancing the Patrick Engineering Centre.”

Michael Uren, a graduate of Imperial College in Mechanical Engineering, founded marine aggregates producer Civil and Marine Ltd and developed the manufacture of cement from a by-product of the iron and steel industry. The deep sea dredging company transported up to 4.5 million tonnes of marine aggregates per year from the bed of the North Sea to the coastlines of northern Germany, Holland, Belgium, France and the east coast of England, where the sand and gravel was washed and screened, and sold to the ready mix concrete companies of those five countries. At its height, five of these deep sea dredgers were at work in the North Sea, thereby saving some 600 acres of prime farmland per annum being excavated on shore for the extraction of sand and gravel.

The Cement Company, which Michael founded in 1980, was eventually producing up to 2.5 million tonnes of slag cement per year in five plants in the UK alone (amounting to 17 per cent of the UK cement market), in addition to one in the Czech Republic, and the first such plant in the USA. These plants produced this cement at an energy consumption of only 20 per cent of that of ordinary Portland cement (OPC), coupled with a 90 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions, which in the UK alone saved more than two million tonnes of CO2 being discharged into the atmosphere per annum. Concrete produced from slag cement also has a much lower heat of hydration than OPC, which leads to less cracking occurring in the finished structure. Furthermore, slag cement concrete has a far tighter pore structure, leading to a major reduction in its permeability, which in turn restricts the ingress of water, chlorides, and other chemicals, thereby increasing the durability of the concrete and its effective life span. Alongside this, Michael is widely regarded as a philanthropist in the fields of medical research, education, the armed forces and conservation of wildlife.

Architects van Heyningen and Haward have been appointed to design and produce the new SciTec campus for Oundle, which includes the new mathematics department and two new science project rooms adjacent to the current biology and chemistry laboratories. This will enable experiments and projects to be carried out over a longer time-frame than is currently possible and will bring particular benefits for pupils working on extended project qualifications.

The extensive refurbishment and re-design of the Patrick Engineering Centre will offer additional facilities and opportunities. The current ‘large projects’ space will be retained but relocated, and a design laboratory for prototyping and design work will be created, acoustically segregated from the practical facilities. A ‘clean laboratory’ will be provided adjacent to the design laboratory, enabling processes such as 3D printing and robotics to be deployed. In addition to the large projects space, there will be four open-plan workshop bays that will enable pupils to be taught in small groups whilst sharing fixed machinery, as well as two new dedicated classrooms for design and theory that will be easily accessible.

Headmaster Charles Bush Said: “Engineering is the lifeblood of Oundle’s history and heritage. The school must continue to inspire pupils to become engineers to carry on the tradition for the good of the nation. The future of science and engineering will involve the blurring of disciplines and the aim of the SciTec campus is to enable young minds to think with an increasingly interdisciplinary focus which will help them succeed at university and in industry.”

“We are immensely grateful for the enthusiasm of all those, including Michael Uren, who share our vision to secure the future of science, technology, engineering and mathematics at Oundle, not only for our pupils, but for British industry as a whole.”

In addition to academic scholarships, the school offers two scholarships for design and technology, one at 13+ and one at 16+. Entry forms and further details are available on the admissions section of the school website. Further details about the development can also be found on the school’s website under ‘development plans’.

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