Thomas Hankinson

Ever since I was young, I was fascinated as to how things worked. Growing up my grandad was a retired mechanic so we would always be fixing cars for fun. Once I got into secondary school I had two amazing teachers in the Craft, Design and Technology department that started to push me into engineering. It was they who told me about the Arkwright Engineering Scholarships and pushed me to apply. But in all honestly, I always think I would have ended up in some form of engineering.

How did you use your Scholarship funding? 

I used the scholarship funding to buy a 3D printer and an FPGA development kit. The 3D printer I bought is still with me. I even took it to university with me for my master’s thesis. That printer has made prototype bioreactors that have flown on the International Space Station as a part of the MicroAge mission, as well as smaller systems we have sent to Thailand where they have been used to analyse reaction pathways for novel drug production and research.

What did you gain from your Arkwright Scholarship? (Any stand-out experiences? Did it open any doors for you?)

The biggest gain for me was the week I got to spend at Thales. I had the opportunity to fully embed myself with one of their engineering teams and to see what life was actually like for engineers. They let me test the subsystems they were developing for the Manchester Metro system and gave me a tour of their sonar facility in the UK. I’m still in contact with some of those engineers at Thales and as recently as last week I was in contact with them about a commercial partnership with the Space and Engineering research group I work with at the University of Liverpool. 

Where are you studying now, what subject, and how you are finding it so far?

Currently I’m in the final weeks of my master’s year at the University of Liverpool. I am studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering and specialised in Digital System design which I have really enjoyed. The week after I finish the masters, I’m starting a PhD at the University of Liverpool where I will be working on Ion Mobility technologies with one of the professors I met during my Undergraduate years. I have loved the University of Liverpool and all the opportunities it brought me.

Any advice to current Scholars and / or students thinking of applying to Arkwright?

The best thing I can say is be yourself and if you get a scholarship make the most of every second of it. The Arkwright scholarship has been instrumental for me, without it I doubt I would be where I am now. Really make sure to utilise the partnership with a sponsor they give you, as it will definitely pay off in the future.

What are your plans for the future? What career path are you hoping to pursue?

I’ve done a lot of work placements while at university working in research and development and I’m certain that’s where I want to be. I’m starting a PhD soon in Ion Mobility technology and I can see myself either going into R&D after that or into academia as a researcher in a related field. I’m fascinated with the physics side of things, and I can see myself working on quantum computing and other related fields in the future.

Arkwright Scholar 2015-2017


Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Systems and Control, EPQ

Electronic Engineering, University of Liverpool

Student, University of Liverpool