Key Stage 4 students at our Southall Community College have been encouraged to think of themselves as inventors by former Southall mechanical engineering student and inventor of the wind-up radio, Trevor Baylis OBE.
The world-renowned inventor, whose wind-up radio gained support and recognition from global leaders such as Nelson Mandela, spoke to students about his early years as a local swimming champ, through to his career as a stuntman and the events that led him to inventing the wind-up radio.
Trevor credited his inventive spirit to a toy given to him by his father: “Probably the best thing that happened to me was that my father taught me how to use a Meccano set, which was fantastic because I learned how to use nuts, bolts, screws, washers, chains, gears and it stayed with me all my life. I was a mechanical engineer by the time I was five or six because of my dad.”
He stressed to the students that they all had the potential to invent something, and he said colleges played a key role in inspiring the next generation of inventors: “First things first, we are all inventors. It’s not just a question of the particular course or qualification, you’ve got to bring them into the equation and remind them that sometimes you bring a plumber in to fix something that you could do yourself in about twenty minutes with bit of tape and a spanner. We’ve got to get them hands-on, get them learning the basic skills – it’s an everybody-wins situation.”
One of the students in attendance, 15-year-old Jarvis Ghouri from Southall, said: “I really enjoyed the talk, it was very inspiring. He was saying that we are all inventors and I really believe in that. It’s important to have talks with people like this because we learn about what they did to become successful.”
Amina Dadey, the lecturer who organised the talk, said it was important to give students a chance to talk to the college’s alumni: “It was an honour to host someone who has achieved so much in his lifetime, and I believe both students and staff benefited from his life story and wisdom. The event was a success and highlights the importance of building ties with our alumni who are important in the learning experience of our students. It was a pleasure to organise this talk and I hope there will be more to come.”
The talk was one of many enrichment activities provided to students enrolled in the college’s Key Stage 4 department. Since its launch in 2011, the department has grown rapidly to over 100 students between the ages of 14 and 16.