For those of us that grew up in the 90s and early 2000s you couldn’t go far without running into a Dyson vacuum cleaner commercial or advertisement. Their innovative products really put the suck in suction and, ever since its inception, the company has been a household name in the world of cleaning products.
For years, Dyson stayed in their lane, putting out new models within their line of vacuum cleaners, staying true to their brand. But even during the early days of Dyson, their founder Sir James Dyson, was working in the background, eagerly looking to tackle the ever increasing need for engineers.
Dyson: the Man, the Myth…the School?
Sir James Dyson burst onto the scene in the mid-90s with his trademark ball vacuum cleaners that looked like they were straight out of the Jetsons (that’s an old cartoon set in space for the younger crowd). But at the core of this QVC crowd pleaser is a serious inventor that truly revolutionized the vacuum cleaner market seemingly overnight.
As if groundbreaking success in business was not enough for Sir Dyson, he quickly built a reputation in England for helping address the growing need for engineers. The establishment of the James Dyson Foundation in 2002 set the philanthropist on a path that would open the doors, both literally and figuratively to the next generation of engineers.
In the time since, Dyson has been involved in a veritable cornucopia of philanthropic ventures, that included sweeping changes to engineering education in England as well as approximately £23 million in donations to universities and scholarship funds for aspiring engineers.
Despite his immense impact, Dyson still felt that more could be done. In 2016, the inventor-turned-philanthropist launched the Dyson Institute, a mecca for engineering students around the world that turned traditional education on its head and could be a litmus test for the future of secondary education.
Education for the Next Generation of Engineers
As soon as you set foot on the Dyson Institute campus, you know you are in a place of higher education that is truly unique. The feeling is hard to shake and even more difficult to figure out. Perhaps it is the unique relationship between coursework and real world experiences, the Michelin star dining hall, or the lack of crushing debt that students avoid that draws so much attention and feels like a fresh perspective.
Regardless, the handful of students that traverse the admission process are offered an educational experience unlike any other on earth.
Hands-On Course Work
For years, Dyson has championed hands-on experience for students, stating “manufacturing is more than just putting parts together.” This sentiment comprises the very fabric of the institute and can be seen in every classroom on campus. Lessons are immediately followed by application, as students work side-by-side, often with a member of the Dyson family, all while being paid to do so. You read that correctly, students are paid a full-time wage for learning.
The curriculum operates through modules that relate to work that the student will be conducting throughout the term. Two days of in-class learning is followed by direct application for the remainder of the week. At the end of the 4 year program, the student earns their “Dyson Degree,” which equates to a Bachelor’s in Engineering in the student’s specific field of study.
Shaking Things Up
Since its founding, the Dyson Institute has closely followed the spirit of their fearless leader in being “Different. Authentic. Pioneering.” The 180 degree departure from traditional education at universities like Oxford and Cambridge does have its skeptics, but the proof is in the bread pudding.
One of Dyson’s most ambitious plans revolves around student tuition, of which there is none. Every student gets their education free of charge. Better yet, they are full time Dyson employees earning a living wage, and all of the benefits that go with it, during their time at the Dyson Institute. The appeal to avoid crippling student debt has resulted in more applications in the last two years than their direct competitors.
Maybe you are convinced that the Dyson Institute is right for you or your child. With a student body of only around 200 students, admissions are rigorous and rightly so.
How to Apply
Due to their unique structure, there are requirements that you will not see at other institutions. Namely, the right to live and work in the United Kingdom is a qualifier. Top of class marks in physics and a host of non-academic requirements increase the difficulty of admission. For those that feel they exceed those expectations, admissions begin in September 2021 through the Dyson Institute website.
A Blueprint for Education
While the prospect of admission is slim, the program’s appeal is quickly gaining traction and it is reasonable to expect that similar institutions will follow suit in the coming years. As alternatives to traditional higher education continue to make waves, more and more aspiring students will benefit.
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