An avid aviation fan has become one of the youngest-ever graduates of a tough space engineering programme at Loughborough College.
Joshua Borges, 17, of Loughborough, recently achieved a clean sweep of A* in his A level Maths, Physics and Further Maths, as well as two D* in BTEC Level 3 Space Engineering.
He is now on course to study an aeronautical engineering degree at Loughborough University and dreams of becoming an aircraft designer or commercial pilot.
“I was very happy with my results. For years, I’ve been obsessed with airplanes and aircraft. It intrigues me - so I want to work in either aircraft design or if possible, I would like to fly one,” Joshua said.
Joshua’s high-flying ambitions were inspired by his parents who used to take him on aircraft spotting and museum trips from a very young age. His fascination for classic and modern commercial aircrafts developed rapidly with the aid of a valuable collection of books, as well as countless stories told by his parents and their own experiences with aircrafts that they encountered at their daily work at the airport.
Before he joined secondary school, his parents bought him Flight Simulator computer software which taught him crucial skills about aerodynamics and flight. Since then, he has accumulated countless flying hours at the controls of some of the greatest aircrafts ever flown in commercial history, including the Concorde – the first and original Mach Two commercial airliner.
But education hasn’t always been a smooth ride for Joshua. His dad Carlos explained: “With Joshua, it’s like the tortoise and the hare. He started slowly at primary school, but when he got going there was no stopping him.
“At primary school they even suggested that he should be kept back a year. They said he didn’t seem to understand what was going on. Fortunately, we didn’t do that and when he went into secondary school, it all came together in Year 7.”
He left his secondary school with a raft of grade 9s, especially in mathematics and sciences thanks to a caring and supportive environment that instilled in him a love for maths, further maths and science.
Joshua said: “I will never forget my cherished interactions with my secondary school teachers or the knowledge that they imparted.”
He then chose Loughborough College’s Space Engineering programme - the College’s most academically challenging further education course, because of his love of flight.
When he arrived at College, he only planned to take the Maths and Physics A levels along with the BTEC - but regretted that he could not initially choose Further Maths as it is not part of the course. But, when he saw a student hand in a Further Maths A level workbook, he asked his teacher about the course and enrolled on that as well without a second thought!
His determination to succeed and his love of learning propelled him forward on the course and through lockdown learning, which Joshua embraced as an opportunity to learn above and beyond his curriculum; an environment in which he was in control of his own learning and the time he needed for each subject, which enabled him to thrive in.
“I used to do additional work on top of what I was asked to do,” he said. “I used to do my own work examples of my own equations and check them with my Further Maths teacher for example.
“I’m very independent at study so during lockdown, it meant I was able to read from the books and get well ahead of syllabus in some ways.
“The biggest challenge was allocating time in the most efficient way because at first, I was finishing assignments ahead of classes which were dedicated to assignment study only. So, it took a while for me and my teachers to understand what I needed to do with my untaken class time and when.”
Joshua praised his teachers who challenged him and supported him at the right times. He said: “The A level teaching especially was exemplary. My further maths teacher, Anthony Clohesy, responded to my questions at all times of the day. He was always providing me with challenges and even uploaded videos in his own time to provide me with quality worked examples and challenges. He even has his own website, the chalkface.net filled with countless maths resources! The whole maths team, Nicola and James were very supportive. They realised my potential and helped me achieve what I did and the same goes for Ms Sophie and Nat from the physics department.”
Joshua’s mum Shefali said her son always had a passion for learning and used to be fascinated by taking apart and fixing broken clocks, repairing a pendulum clock at the age of just five.
She said: “He used to know all of the planets at a very young age of two and knew a lot more than children his age. We’re so proud of him and his achievements. He has worked so hard and deserves everything he has got.”
It’s not only planes and the enjoyment of studying; he also spends quality time mastering the skills of playing the drums to his favourite music group, the Beatles.
Sophie Allan, who leads the Space Engineering programme, said: "Joshua has shown himself to be an excellent and tenacious physicist. He naturally grasped most concepts quickly, but what is most noteworthy with him is his desire to understand WHERE the physics comes from. He is an incredibly hard worker who always strives to improve on any weaker areas, and it was always a joy to discuss the finer points of physics with him."
Anne-Marie Francis, Vice Principal of Curriculum and Quality at Loughborough College, said: “Joshua has been an incredible student whose achievements really reflect his extraordinary effort and exceptional talent.
“We’re extremely pleased that he will be going on to pursue his ambitions at Loughborough University and to carry on his love of flight and aircraft.
“One of the great things about our space engineering programme is that it prepares our students very well for university study because of the rigour that is applied during the programme. So, Joshua will be in a very advantageous position. We wish him every success with his very bright future.”