James' story

Engineering a future in renewable energy

James facing the camera. Portrait image

 James Napp


Originally set on a career in the Arts, Sussex student James Napp did a U-turn into engineering, finding himself drawn by the mental stimulation and problem solving associated with the subject. James is this year’s recipient of the Paxton Scholarship. This is his story.

“I did A-levels in Art, History and English. After Sixth Form, I did an art foundation course before going travelling and working, mostly in construction. It was during this time that I developed my practical skills and began taking an interest in mechanical systems – and that’s where I discovered my passion for science and technology.

“Although Mechanical Engineering appealed to me, I needed to get my Maths and Physics up to speed. I did an engineering foundation year at the University of Brighton before applying to Sussex.

“I chose Sussex because I really wanted in-person teaching, which the University offered very soon after the Covid pandemic. Admittedly, I found the Maths challenging, but I worked hard and learnt to break down complex problems into chunks, which makes them more manageable.”

Acknowledging his hard work as well as performance in a rigorous application process that involved a practical exam, James was awarded the Paxton Scholarship.

Paxton are a Brighton-based global firm that manufacture powerful, easy to install and use security solutions. They serve a range of sectors, including education, healthcare, retail, leisure, commercial, and public. Their systems secure more than 25,000 buildings across the world every year, and they work with brands such as Manchester United, graze, Michelin, Sky Deutschland and Foyles. Keen to support local talent, the company established the Paxton Scholarship to provide students with a work placement and hands-on experience that reinforces their studies, preparing graduates for a career in engineering. It also offers a generous bursary that helps students through their final year at Sussex.

Being recognised in this way was really uplifting for James. He says:

“Receiving a £10,000 Paxton Scholarship is not just a massive confidence boost for me, it’s also life-changing. That money will enable me to focus on my degree and get immersed in my final-year project without experiencing financial stress.

“I’m also excited about working a summer placement with Paxton – it will be great to learn from the experts and to gain valuable practical support to complement my academic learning.”

The Paxton Scholarship is an initiative we're very proud of as it gives us an opportunity to support local residents in their studies, whilst giving them real-world experience prior to completing their education. We're pleased to have this platform to nurture young talent, and to have been able to offer a number of our past scholars permanent roles at Paxton at the end of their studies. I'd like to wish all of this year's applicants good luck!”NICOLA O'DONNELL

After completing his studies, James’ ambition is to work in engineering within the renewable energy sector. He says:

“Once I get the technical aspect under my belt, I will have plenty of career options to consider. Engineering is so collaborative that whatever you’re doing, and in whichever sector, you’re going to be working with other people. And that’s what I’m best at.”

Scholarships change people’s lives for the better. Will you or the company that you work for consider supporting one at Sussex?