The moment Oliver Perkins realised he was destined for a career in engineering took place one afternoon in the hallway of De Montfort University’s Queens Building, right next to a model of a revolutionary diesel engine.
This was no ordinary engine – it was the Perkins P6, an engineering classic and one of the world’s first high-speed diesel engines, using the explosive new technology which helped Perkins-powered cars set six world diesel speed records at Brooklands race track in the 1930s.
Standing in front of the 78-year-old artefact he looked at that brand name again: Perkins, the same as his own. Suddenly, the penny dropped. This engine had been designed by Oliver’s great-uncle, Frank Perkins.
Currently in his final year of Mechanical Engineering at DMU, Oliver said: “I had no idea my great uncle’s engine was displayed here, but I was really proud when I came across it. It’s a nice reminder of our heritage, which is one of the main reasons I got into engineering.
“My friends were pretty impressed too and they started asking me all these questions as if I’d designed the engine myself!”
And the engineering talent in Oliver’s family wasn’t limited to just one. His grandfather on his mother’s side was a chief mechanic for the Gerard Formula 1 team in the 1950s, a golden era for the sport.
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So perhaps it seems inevitable that Oliver has already secured a job at Airblast Eurospray, the global specialists offering blast and paint solutions across marine, aerospace and automotive industries.
The 21-year old said: “Mechanical Engineering is such a broad discipline, but DMU’s Enhancement Week really helped me to narrow down what career path I wanted to take.
“I did a placement year at Airblast Eurospray and have worked there part-time ever since.
“I’m really excited to start as a full-time Project Manager after I graduate, especially as I’ll get to work across a huge range of exciting industries.”
While at DMU, Oliver has also enjoyed taking part in DMU Racing in Formula Student. Run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Formula Student challenges universities from across the world to design, build and race a single seat racing car in one year.
Oliver said: “I love working on the Formula Student car and my grandfather on my mum’s side has helped me lots with design and manufacturing ideas. Following in his footsteps and getting into racing is the ultimate dream.
“The DMU team is due to race at Silverstone and Hockenheim in Germany this summer, and I’m hoping I’ll get the chance to have a go.”
As a Leicester Tigers supporter, Oliver was always keen on the idea of going to university in Leicester, but knew his decision had to be based on something more concrete than that.
He said: “I was won over by DMU at the Open Day - it was by far the friendliest university I visited.
“Course tutors and student ambassadors were on hand for a chat, which helped reassure me about the course content and related opportunities.
“Lots of universities offer similar courses in Mechanical Engineering, but what I love about my course at DMU is that you get a good grounding in both mechanical and electrical engineering disciplines, with the choice to follow the path that speaks to you most.”
Posted on Tuesday 8th March 2016