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From Textbooks to Take-off with Farnborough Air Sciences Trust

Farnborough College of Technology’s media department has soared to new heights thanks to a unique collaboration with the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST). Level 3 and degree-level students collaborated with FAST to create a series of short documentaries using previously archived footage and interviews for their museum and installations. This partnership, made possible by a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund (formerly the Heritage Lottery Fund), has provided an invaluable learning experience for media students and contributes to the preservation of Farnborough’s rich aeronautical history through the digitisation of a vast range of historic aeronautical research material.

Level 3 Media students, whose course is the equivalent of three A Levels, were delighted to take on this assignment as their course focuses on media production and broadcasting skills that help to prepare them for industry. Due to the large scope of the project, Josh Sparkes (Programme Manager for Music, Media and Performing Arts) decided that cross-collaboration would be key, so degree-level students were also involved and used their expertise and ideas to tackle the task. These students co-produced a captivating series of mini documentaries exploring various facets of Farnborough’s aeronautical heritage. This project, undertaken through “live briefs”, offered students a taste of real-world production and greatly enriched their classroom experience. Beyond documentary production, students participated in group presentations, received insights from talks and visits, and tackled bespoke assignments incorporating exclusive archive footage, photos, and expert guidance from FAST.

Students visited the Ark Postproduction and Restoration facility in London, collaborated with FAST’s aero-researchers, and extended beyond the borders of the classroom by participating in off-site filming with clients. The College’s aeronautical engineering department, along with other aeronautical researchers and specialists, proved invaluable in guiding the students on how to best use the footage and findings.

The result of this partnership was an exclusive screening event at the Farnborough College of Technology campus with Sir Donald Spiers and Cllr Clive Grattan in attendance alongside an audience of trustees from FAST, the local council, and the Ark facility. Additionally, AV installations and the FAST Aviation Archive YouTube Channel, as well as a public showing at the FAST Museum, offered a platform to showcase this partnership’s impact to the wider community, including local aero-enthusiasts and lottery supporters. The viewing was very well received by the public, with attendees complimenting the outcome of the students’ efforts.

This collaboration with FAST has been instrumental in providing media students with the opportunity to not only apply their skills in a practical setting, but also gain experience on a genuine, industry-standard production. Equally, the project has nurtured a deep appreciation for Farnborough’s remarkable aeronautical legacy and strengthened the College’s connection with the local community.

Josh Sparkes, Programme Manager for Music, Media and Performing Arts, said: “This project has been a fantastic opportunity for our students to take their classroom knowledge and apply it to a real-world challenge.  Witnessing their creativity and critical thinking skills as they produced the documentaries has been incredibly rewarding.”

Speaking on the opportunity to work with this previously unseen footage and research, Principal CEO Virginia Barrett expressed: “The knowledge and experience gained from this project will undoubtedly benefit our media students not only in their future academic endeavours, but also in their professional careers. We deeply appreciate the opportunity our students have been given through this collaboration.”

The College extends its sincere gratitude to Ashley Morgan, the project coordinator and one of the FAST archivists, whose dedication and feedback played a pivotal role in the students’ success.

To see the amazing work produced by the students, please click here.

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