FORMER Education Secretary Kenneth Baker and RAF Group Captain Andy Bacon unveiled a plaque to officially open Heathrow Aviation Engineering University Technical College at Northwood.

Guests were there, too, from the school’s sponsors, including Brunel University, RAF Northolt, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow Airport.

Lord Baker performed the topping-out ceremony for the £10m UTC building last year.

He said: “It has been wonderful to come back and see this fantastic facility, with its state-of-the-art engineering workshops.

“The skills these young people learn here, and the exposure to work-related projects with the employer partners, will give them a great head start in becoming the engineers of the future.”

Professor Julia Buckingham, Vice-Chancellor and President of Brunel, spoke about the huge opportunities available in engineering and the valuable contribution Heathrow UTC is playing in providing a conveyor belt of talent.

Principal Bryan Berry said: “Our first cohort of students came because they have a passion for aviation and wanted to develop their engineering skills.

“Our new facilities are providing a unique environment in which to do this and, with the support of our sponsors, I have no doubt that they will succeed.”

Heathrow UTC welcomed its first cohort of Year 10 and Year 12 students last September. This new education concept offers students the opportunity of combining academic, technical and practical skills.

Alongside studying for their GCSEs, A-levels and a Diploma in Engineering, the students have had a busy first term working on a range of ‘live’ projects with employers, such as building a Quadcopter (drone) and developing an aircraft seat entertainment system.