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Ciphers, robots and building your own internet: Surrey’s university technical college will equip students for jobs of the future

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An example of a basic Caesar cipher

Decoding encrypted messages, making robots and building internets from scratch are some of the tasks students will be able to tackle at Surrey’s first university technical college.

The college will open in Guildford to train the next generation of cyber security, computing and engineering experts.

Students will specialise in either computer science or engineering – and take part in challenging projects designed to equip them for jobs of the future.

University Technical College Guildford will cater for students aged 14 to 19 and open in September 2018.

The group behind the college includes Surrey County Council, global information technology and business services company CGI and Royal Holloway, University of London as well as Guildford College and Guildford Education Partnership. As well as CGI, employers supporting the college include industrial gases specialists Air Products and engineering giant Babcock International.

Teenagers will study for GCSE, A-level and BTEC qualifications through a mix of practical activities and class-based lessons with a focus on the skills needed for jobs.

For more information about UTC Guildford, visit the college’s website. A public consultation on the college is running until 21 November and prospective students, parents, employers and members of the community are encouraged to have their say.

Linda Kemeny, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Schools, Skills and Educational Achievement, said: “From cracking codes to building their own internets, students who enrol at UTC Guildford can look forward to tackling a range of assignments in a state-of-the-art new building as they acquire the skills needed to secure jobs of the future.

“The college we’re opening will help meet growing demand from employers in industries such as cyber security, with the added benefit of easing the immense pressure on school places.”

Professor Paul Hogg, Vice Principal and Dean of Science at Royal Holloway, University of London said: “Robots, artificial intelligence and code-cracking do not just exist in the realm of sci-fi films, but represent real careers in the areas of cyber security and computer science. Our experts are already working in these fields, in areas such as international information security. With our courses certified by GCHQ we are excited to join this forward-thinking venture that will enable the next generation to lead the way in the digital workforce.”

Some of the projects planned for students at UTC Guildford

*Protecting information: Students will learn about Caesar cipher, substitution cipher and stream cipher and will work in teams to encrypt a document before handing it to another team to crypt-analyse and decrypt.

*Testing the security of a fake network: Students will conduct experiments on a fake network to see how easy it is to break into. They will learn how ethical hacking can make computer systems stronger by exposing security weaknesses so they can be corrected.

*Building your own internet: Students will learn about the algorithms and technology that make an internet as well as protocols, security, error connection, routing and encapsulation. A live test of the internets created by students will be judged by experts.

*Keeping cold liquids and gases at the right temperature: Students will conduct experiments to find the best way of insulating cryogenic containers to ensure the materials inside them are kept cold while they are being stored and transported.

*Electronics: Students will be able to create mobile robots from kits and test them in one of a number of specialist learning suites. They will also carry out projects using tiny programmable Raspberry Pi computers in a “Pi Lab”.

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