A Caithness company is working to make sure money is no obstacle for young people interested in engineering.
Budding Engineers, in Wick, has been donating hundreds of recycled desktops, laptops and other devices to families who can’t afford them.
Boss Dave Kerr said that skills in digital design can open doors to a wide variety of careers – with the right equipment.
And that’s where the Budding Engineers Tech4Tots & Teens project will help.
Budding Engineers in Wick and beyond
Since March 2020, Dave and Liz Kerr have put almost 300 devices into homes across the north and north-east.
The main arm of the business offers courses and software to get pupils started in design.
Tech4Tots & Teens devices can come loaded with design and engineering programmes like AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor.
Mr Kerr said that additional learning needs shouldn’t be a barrier to digital literacy.
“There are a lot of youngsters with additional needs and they are extremely talented.
“If they want to come forward and learn the software, I would openly encourage them.”
Thanks to a recent expansion, Budding Engineers is able to reach young people nationwide with its Tech4Tots & Teens donation programme.
By getting pupils devices of their own that are capable of running the design programmes, they can explore even more on their own.
Benefits of self-discovery
Budding Engineers recently dropped off nine devices for Thurso High School students.
Depute head teacher Anne Nicoll said that she is already seeing her students benefitting from being able to explore design at home.
She says it takes “a lot of practice” to use the software and having a device at home “really improves skills”.
She added: “It means you’re not always relying on a shared device during class time.
“The best way is self-discovery and getting into things and working them out yourself.”
The devices are in addition to council-issued Chromebooks, which aren’t designed to handle high-powered digital design software.
Ms Nicoll added: “We’re really quite an engineering-rich community.
“If you’re confident in using this software and you’re applying for apprenticeships and jobs, this is going to be really beneficial.”
How to help out
The Budding Engineers project – Tech4Tots & Teens – is accepting donations of used desktops and laptops.
Follow the same instructions if you’re looking for a device for your child. Mr Kerr said that the devices are for low-income families, but he won’t ask for any proof of finances.
You can also visit a number of libraries across the Highland and Islands to make a donation.