The University of Southampton

ECS Student Development 2012 – Celebrating student achievement

Published: 9 November 2012

Driving 10,000 miles across Europe and Asia to deliver ambulances to Mongolia and taking part in the Mont Blanc Marathon were just two of the activities that our students were able to undertake this summer as a result of support from The Head of School Fund for ECS.

The Fund enables students in Electronics and Computer Science (ECS ) at the University of Southampton to undertake activities which enhance their personal development – these might be voluntary service, charitable or educational, or any initiative of value to the broader community, for which additional funding is required to achieve success.

The Fund is provided through the generosity of ECS alumni, in response to the annual telephone campaign and through other personal donations. In 2012, as a result of grants made from the Fund, ECS students were able to deliver two ambulances to the people of Mongolia, cycle from London to Budapest, take part in the Mont Blanc Marathon, undertake community projects in Fiji and Manila, attend a leading academic conference in Germany, and support University student performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Reporting on their experiences our students commented:

‘Our team of four students set ourselves a challenge to cycle from London to Budapest after Graduation. Our motivations were cultural exploration, physical training and charitable contribution – we met or exceeded all our targets – including our fundraising which resulted in donations totalling £1700 to Save the Children and the Southampton Hospital Charity. A massive thank you to everyone who has sponsored us both in the run up and during our adventure!’

Alex Coleman Cole volunteered to work in Fiji, teaching English in a village school, and helping construct community projects such as irrigation and recycling. He writes: ‘This trip has given me a beter idea of my position and how lucky I am to be here. I have made many new friends. I have a second family to go back to over there and have learned many useful new skills.’

ECS students delivered two ambulances to Mongolia, driving 10,000 miles across Europe and Asia, as part of the Mongolia Challenge Rally organized by Go Help (a charity established some years ago by a team including ECS graduate Stephen Edwards). Useful patient transport is in incredibly short supply in Mongolia and the ambulances, which were also stocked with large amounts of medical equipment from the team’s fundraising activities, are now being used by the health authority in Ulaanbaatar.

James Prance and Craig Aylett attended the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe with the University Theatre Society and Showstoppers Group. Both James and Craig are members of StageSoc which helps provide lighting, sound and backstage support. Craig writes: ‘The Fringe is unlike anything else, with people coming from all around the world – it is something I will never forget.’ Tom Smith attended Games Developers Conference Europe as a volunteer. The event is held in Cologne each year and is a major gathering of the games industry. Tom writes: ‘It was very useful to be able to attend the event: I’m in touch with many of the volunteers I met there and intend to apply to volunteer again next year. I also made contact with several prominent games development students and learned a lot from attending the talks.’

Manol Dimitrov (pictured) took part in and completed the Mont Blanc Marathon - one of the toughest footraces in Europe, also raising money for Cancer Research UK. ‘A challenge like this is a major contribution to building character,’ he said, ‘and presents a rare opportunity to learn about yourself as an individual both from a physical and mental perspective.’

Professor Neil White, Head of ECS, comments: ‘We are grateful to ECS alumni for enabling our students to pursue these challenges. In their grant applications, our students stressed that financial support of this kind was fundamental to their ability to undertake these ambitious and often life-changing activities.’

To find out how you can support ECS students, please visit or email

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