However, new members will be restricted to 300 a year over the next three years on a first come, first served basis. Membership benefits include subsidised teaching resources and engineering materials, project ideas, visits and advice.
The TEP is also adding to its list of publications, which includes textbooks and videos on all aspects of technology, including manufacturing, electronics, control, mechanisms, energy and structures.
John Williams, director of the programme, says: "The scheme has really taken off. We have been flooded with applications to join and the progress over the last few months has surpassed all expectations. TEP is a unique programme which is putting manufacturing back into technology."
Schools where the programme is already in place have nothing but praise for the Engineering Council's scheme, saying it has helped them foster industry links and develop cross-curricular applications.
At Brymore School, a boys' boarding school in rural Somerset, the project has enabled them to build a computer-controlled model of a local grain feed manufacturing company. Headteacher Tim Pierce says: "We have always tried to work with industry. But the TEP has been excellent in terms of getting extra help."
Teachers at Ferrers School, a 950-pupil mixed comprehensive in Northamptonshire, on the other hand, have found that TEP has brought a common dimension to maths, science and technology teaching. Deputy head Mike Cousins says: "Science and maths teachers have been taking part in each other's lessons. That has been very helpful in seeing how the children's learning was taken forward and applied in technology. TEP has given us a focus for curriculum development in technology which had previously been an area of uncertainty."
The programme seems to have worked best in schools which already have some sort of links with industry, and schools have to secure Pounds 550 in cash or kind from industry before they can become eligible for membership of the scheme. Mr Cousins warns: "I can imagine difficulties for schools who do not get the right industrial partnership."
Pupils at Samuel Ward school, a mixed comprehensive in Haverhill, Suffolk, are now able to build their own electronic sensors instead of having to use off-the-shelf models, and are working in partnerhip with a local chemical company. Paul Bramwell, the school's head of technology, says: "GNVQ and TEP complement each other very well. Joining the programme has been a very good decision and the students have produced excellent work."
Among the 300 institutions taking part at the moment, are a dozen FE colleges and two universities.
o For further details about the Technology Enhancement Programme, contact the Engineering Council, tel: 071-240 7891.