Goats, game show hosts, eyeballs and pirates are going to help the next generation of engineers win places at leading universities, thanks to a new website launched today by the University of Cambridge Department of Engineering in partnership with The Underwood Trust.

i-want-to-study-engineering.org is an online question bank of almost 200 maths, physics and engineering problems, being made available free of charge to anyone who wants to have a go at solving them. Anyone stumped by a problem can click on a hint video and get detailed help from current Cambridge Engineering students on how to tackle the problem.

Professor Richard Prager developed the project in order to benefit all students who want to study engineering at university. "Some schools are more experienced than others at preparing their pupils for competitive engineering entrance interviews,” Professor Prager explained.

“i-want-to-study-engineering.org aims to level the playing field by providing a collection of technical interview questions that everyone can use for practice."

“The exercises on the website are designed to inspire and challenge students. We hope that this will encourage them to consider studying Engineering at University.  By developing their problem-solving skills we can also help them to turn that ambition into a reality.”

The project team included four current Engineering undergraduates from Cambridge. Zerline Lim, Alice Brown, and Daniel Scott developed hint videos for each problem while Abigail Bankey concentrated on testing and technical support.

“Creating hint videos made me think harder about the best way to present and explain a solution,” said Zerline. “The hint needs to be clear and concise.”

“I certainly would have found this website extremely useful had it been available while I was preparing for my Cambridge interview,” Zerline added.

The questions and videos were user-tested by students attending engineering Summer Schools at Cambridge. “I enjoyed solving these problems,” said one tester. “They stretched me to think, which I enjoy. I also learnt a lot of new, different basic techniques.”

“It is a brilliant resource for aspiring engineering students. Thank you for developing it,” said another.

i-want-to-study-engineering will work closely with its two sister initiatives, the Cambridge Mathematics Education Project, led by Professor Martin Hyland, and the Rutherford Schools Physics Project, led by Cambridge University Professor of Theoretical Physics Mark Warner, and Cavendish Laboratory Outreach Officer Dr Lisa Jardine-Wright.

Inset image: Dr R.L. Spear, (Scale) Fibrous Scaffolds for Stimulating Bone Growth

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