I Can do robotics – Lewis’ story

Lewis starring in his campaign poster – there is an image of him crouched down playing with a robot which is on the floor next to him. The tag line reads ‘I Can do robotics’ and there is a quote from Lewis which says “When I lost my sight I didn’t think I could achieve such amazing things, but I have learnt to defy expectations.”]

Lewis Smith, a 19 year old from Essex studying at RNC, has become the face of the College’s national I Can campaign centring on his passion for robotics and having his dreams come true.

Lewis started at the College in September 2014, studying a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in IT alongside a BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Business Studies. Prior to this he was in mainstream education and was close to completing a BTEC Level 3 in Engineering at his local college when he realised that he had developed problems with his sight. He was diagnosed with Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, an inherited cell degeneration that predominantly affects young adult males, just before his 18th birthday

“I had been offered an apprenticeship with National Rail, however, due to my sight loss, they withdrew on medical grounds, citing that it would be unsafe,” recalled Lewis. “I spent the next year not knowing what to do and struggling to get any meaningful careers advice.”

At RNC, Lewis has been able to continue with his hobbies and interests, including setting up a Sci-fi film club with his fellow students, and has managed to do a number of activities that he never thought would be possible, like archery and tank driving.

“It felt weird to be asked to be part of the campaign, as I didn’t think I’d have something to offer,” said Lewis. “When you are given the chance to do something like this, you can’t really turn it down. I was mixed between being nervous and worried. Robotics sounds cool and when you see one working it is cool, but once you delve into the subject it can seem a bit dry which, of course, doesn’t bother someone as interested as me!”

Lewis found making his campaign video fun, demonstrating his ability with one of his robotic creations. For someone who does not really like smiling, he found the photo shoot awkward but is pleased with his resulting poster, having been helped to relax by the photographer.

“The campaign is definitely a good idea. It helps to show what specialist education can do,” he stated. “Sooner or later, a place like RNC might not exist, depending on the government, but I only hope that it does. Mainstream schools and colleges would not be able to help students get the qualifications they can get here.”

Lewis is hoping to incorporate robotics into his future career. He already knows enough to continue with it as a lifelong hobby and is also considering working in IT or teaching the subject.

I Can do robotics is Lewis’ video and is available to view on his profile page

Article written by Anika Backhouse, PR, Publications & Outreach Officer at RNC