OVER the last five years Swindon College has seen demand for places on its engineering courses more than triple as it helps to cement the town’s place as a centre of excellence for the subject.

Despite an increase in competition both from sixth form colleges and upcoming establishments, applications to the department have continued to rise.

For example, while there were 35 engineering apprentices this year, applications for this year are pushing 70 and demand for other courses is on the increase.

“There is no doubt that Swindon College has become very popular for students wanting to study engineering,” said Chris Harris, who is the interim curriculum area manager.

“I think one of the key reasons is because we work so closely with a huge range of employers and are able to provide the skills needed for employment.

“When parents come to us and see we work with the likes of Honda and BMW, it is a big pull.”

Last week Dyson announced it was looking to employ 3,000 engineers from the area and with the University Technical College due to open in September, which will focus on engineering, Swindon is becoming a hub for engineers.

“The town’s position on the M4 corridor is ideal for employers and with the town’s rail heritage it has always had strong links with engineering,” said Chris.

“The college is leading the way on this and we aim to make sure every one of our students either goes on to full employment, an apprenticeship or higher education.

“We are also very flexible in what type of engineering courses we offer, from mechanical engineering to civil engineering.

“On top of that, if an employer came to us with a number of workers wanting to do aeronautical engineering then we could accommodate them.”

The strength of this claim is given extra weight from many of the students who come to the college because of its reputation.

Alf Potter, 16, and Ed Reed, 17, are both studying for their BTEC diploma, a one year course.

Alf said: “I got told it was a very good by my friends and that is what I have found since I have been there. I looked around and there was nowhere else putting on the range of courses that Swindon College was.

“They give us a lot of freedom and all the equipment is industry standard.”

Ed said: “Engineering is something which has always been in my family as my uncle and granddad built a traction engine.

“I want to go into the Army to be an engineer and Swindon College was the only place offering the right courses.