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Next Steps for Next Engineers

April 30, 2024

After three years, the first cohort of Next Engineers: Engineering Academy students are donning their caps and gowns, ready to take their next steps on their educational and career journeys. Through the Engineering Academy, participants completed design challenges in small teams, including building mousetrap-powered cars, designing water filtration systems, and ultimately identifying a problem within their own communities that can be solved through engineering. They explored university campuses; interacted with GE volunteers; and reflected on their interests, values, and passions. And, they practiced essential skills they’ll need no matter which path they take: teamwork, communication, public speaking, and more. All Engineering Academy graduates who complete the program and fulfill the eligibility requirements will receive partial scholarships to support them as they pursue their path to engineering careers.

Their hard work and dedication brought them to this momentous occasion. As part of our celebration, we followed up with four Academy participants to see where they are now and where they are going next. Let’s dive into their stories, hear their reflections, and discover what lies ahead for our future innovators.

Faiqa's Cake
One of Faiqa's many amazing cakes.

Faiqa, from Johannesburg, was originally inspired by Cake Wars. She shares, “I still really love baking.” Mechanical engineering is still in the picture, but she’s also discovered a new interest through Next Engineers: “With biomedical engineering, I like the challenge behind it because you never get it right the first go. It takes a lot of energy, but it requires a lot of resilience also.”

Kyla, from Greenville, has seen her interest in architecture grow into a passion: “I am definitely still interested in architecture. For college, I’m attending Florida A&M [School of Engineering].” She likes the combination of art, design, and mathematics – all key components of engineering – and will work alongside architectural and civil engineers to see her visions become reality.

Nigel, from Cincinnati, still loves robotics, but “My focus has switched more to the biomedical engineering field. I’ve been tied to [medicine] in my life, with my mother and father both being nurses. I would enjoy making medical instruments… so that the doctors and nurses would be able to use them to help people.”

And Xanthe, from Staffordshire, has found her path: “I’m definitely more interested in the civil route, focusing on the energy and sustainability side of engineering.”

The variety of interests shows the breadth and depth of career exploration Next Engineers participants experience over the course of the three-year program. All four students had thoughtful plans and had clearly discussed their futures with their families, friends, and Next Engineers facilitators and volunteers.

A Look Back


Nigel participates in Glide Path challenge
Nigel (left) works with his team in Glide Path.

The Next Engineers program has been more than just a curriculum; it’s a community supporting young people as they discover their inner engineers. From design challenges to campus tours, Next Engineers participants embraced opportunity with open arms. They formed bonds beyond classroom walls, discovered their passions, and explored the many types of engineering. They learned the skills they need to build a world that works.

Looking back, the graduating class had some great advice for their past selves: “Don’t give up on your dreams,” “be more open-minded,” “trust yourself,” “use your voice,” “take initiative,” “keep talking to people.”

Reflecting on his experience, Nigel shares, “I still enjoy working with the teams. We’re all looking to do similar things, so being able to know all of them, there’s a possibility we could have a connection in the future.”

For Kyla, a big takeaway has been, “In all of my group activities, everybody plays a part. Your strengths may not be my strengths – everybody has something to contribute.”

“I’ve learned so much from the program and it helps me a bit in school too,” Faiqa shares, “Before we did momentum in school, we’d done it in Next Engineers. In general, it helps with team building. It helps you broaden your technical thinking skills. It helps you solve the problem at hand and not to give up!”

“I think the improvement in my presentation skills has been my biggest accomplishment,” Xanthe reflects. At the beginning, Xanthe says, “I was very scared to get in front of people, but I was also very quiet and didn’t talk much. If I did talk, I talked very fast and was all closed-up body language.”

“I’ve improved in lots of different ways,” says Xanthe, “I figured out what type of engineering I want to go into, and I’ve just grown as a person.”

Beyond Graduation


The future is bright for our Next Engineers. While they are pursuing many different paths, one thing unites them: the unwavering belief that they can change the world.

Xanthe, who recently worked on a service project in Kenya improving a primary school, knows exactly where she’s going next: “I’ve got a job after I finish my A-Levels doing civil engineering, a degree-apprenticeship, focusing on the energy and sustainability side of engineering. I’m doing the water side of it, designing different water infrastructure and things like that, as well as going to Derby University one day a week.”

Xanthe - Plants on the Move challenge
Xanthe (right) with her team for Plants on the Move.


Meanwhile, Kyla plans to attend Florida A&M University and use her skills in engineering and architecture to help homeless people. Last summer, Kyla joined a virtual camp through Florida A&M. “We had to use an open area located in Tallahassee to create an outline for a homeless shelter.” She shares, “I feel like the fact that I got accepted into the college of my dreams, in the major of my dreams – I need to pursue that, to make the best of it.”


Nigel, a detailed planner, has a clear vision for his future: “What’s next for me would definitely be going to the University of Cincinnati, majoring in biomedical engineering and minoring in business because I know I can use that to take my major far. I want to land an internship at UC Medical because I’m going to have to know and understand what the medical instruments there do. Also, I want to go into their Co-Op program – I can get experience and pay for part of my tuition.”

And Faiqa, who won’t graduate until December, is still weighing her options. “There are so many options!” she says, “I’m excited to see where the future ends up taking me and my plans, how it becomes reality and if it’s anything like I’ve planned it.”



Faiqa in Academy
Faiqa on a facility
tour in Academy.

While some students felt more nervous than others about seeing how their plans would unfold, everyone shared that they felt as ready – and excited – as they could be for what’s next.

“I’m thankful for all of the connections and friends I’ve made,” shares Kyla, “I feel like this program has prepared me for my next steps in life.”

“Since the time we did our first interview,” Faiqa says, “it has been my dream to bake moving cakes. So, to do mechanical engineering would mean to make that dream come true and combine my two hobbies and two loves.”

“This is the right path because this field would have me helping a lot of human beings, a lot of people get better and find treatment,” shares Nigel.

Xanthe reflects, “Being able to change other people’s lives through engineering really helps motivate me and keep me going. Especially with what I saw in Kenya – if I could get the water, so they can have safe water everywhere, that would be really make me very happy.”

Congratulations to our Next Engineers graduates! We are so proud of all of you. You are not just engineers — you are dreamers, innovators, and trailblazers. As the first cohort of Next Engineers, you’ll inspire the students who come after you, and the work you will do will help build a world that works – for everyone.

Kyla Graduation Photo
Kyla in her graduation robe.


Stay tuned for more success stories and updates from the Next Engineers alumni network!