Reading students compete to be the country's 'most enterprising'
Release Date 30 August 2005
Three students from the University of Reading are striving to win the local final of this year's Shell Technology Enterprise Programme (STEP) Award for the 'Most Enterprising Student' in the central southern England area. The local final will be held at the University on Monday 5 September. The winner will then take part in a regional final and could go on to the national final with prizes of up to £1,000 up for grabs. Every summer, the University's Knowledge Transfer Centre organises STEP placements for hundreds of students in businesses across central southern England to undertake business and technology related projects. The programme culminates with the competition to find the UK's 'Most Enterprising Student'. This year, 13 students have made it to the local final, with three from the University of Reading. Mark Chatterton, 20, studying Electronic Engineering, has been placed with Arcolectric. For his project, Mark had to design and build a prototype mains rocker switch incorporating a low-cost microcontroller to count mains frequency cycles and disconnect the switch after a pre-determined time. Craig Ollier, 21, studying Management and Business Administration, has been placed with @UK and has had to develop a business plan to expand the company into other areas of the world. Finally, Robert Peters, 20, studying Electronic Engineering and Cybernetics, has been placed with Food Industry Technical. Robert has been researching energy saving systems for use in commercial catering. Susan Matos, the Knowledge Transfer Centre's Business Development Manager, said: "The STEP local final is shaping up to be a fascinating day. All of the students will be required to make a presentation of the work they have completed during their placement, so we will find out much more about the varied projects that have all really helped the host organisations. I have a feeling that the judges will face a tough decision." STEP is a national programme arranging structured summer work placements for students at small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). It matches highly skilled undergraduates to SMEs with specific development projects, in order to increase the growth and innovation potential of the business. Whilst with the host company, students can put the theory they have learnt at university into practice. Around 1000 STEP projects took place over the summer this year in the UK overall. As part of the programme support process, students learn about the small business sector and have the opportunity to develop many core skills, such as time and project management, which increases their employability significantly. After a STEP placement, many graduates strongly consider a career within a small business, with some inspired to set up their own. Similarly, most small businesses involved are convinced by STEP of the value a student project can deliver, with 96% of last year's SME participants stating that they would offer further opportunities to students in the future. End Notes for editors 1) STEP is the UK's leading creator of tailored work placements for students in small to medium-sized businesses. STEP's eight-week summer placements help students apply their knowledge and make them accountable for a meaningful project with a genuine impact on the host company's bottom line. STEP students come from a wide range of degree disciplines and a national network of skilled agents match them to projects based on personality and capability, as well as academic background. Placements are structured in advance, with inductions and assessments to support all those taking part. An annual STEP competition recognises the UK's 'Most Enterprising Student' and is open to all students who undertake a placement. STEP students undertake a range of projects, including creating marketing strategies; improving production methods; creating websites; environmental audits; setting up IT systems. 2) Shell created STEP in 1986 and continues to support the programme UK-wide. Shell would like to thank the DfES, DTI and other regional partners for their support. In Scotland, STEP is also supported by the Scottish Executive, Scottish Enterprise and the European Regional Development Fund. To date, STEP has delivered over 20,000 projects within the small business and community sector. 3) To be eligible for STEP, students should be studying full-time at a UK higher education institution and be in their second or penultimate year of study. Independent businesses that have fewer than 250 employees are eligible to take part in STEP. 4) Step Enterprise Ltd provides the UK management team for STEP. SEL is expanding the opportunities available to both businesses and students by providing the means to access a variety of undergraduate and graduate placement schemes. Further information about STEP and the STEP Awards is available at http://www.step.org.uk. Journalists wishing to attend the STEP local final on Monday 5 September should contact: Susan Matos, T: 0118 378 8214, E: firstname.lastname@example.org Craig Hillsley, T: 0118 378 7388, E: email@example.com