It has been a busy few months here at Hartlepool College, specifically in the School of Engineering where learners have been gaining vital experience in their chosen fields via many different means. Not only are they receiving high-quality instruction in the classroom and workshop, but a number of events planned to enrich the experience of our budding engineers have been taking place.
The School, the largest in the College, is broadly divided into five departments – mechanical & electrical engineering, fabrication & welding, aeronautical engineering, automotive engineering and process & chemical engineering. Each department’s learners have engaged in a variety of visits, industrial insights, competitions and employer interactions, highlighting the School of Engineering’s strong focus on the student experience. It would be difficult to chronicle every activity that has been going on but here are just a few examples of how the School enriches the experience of the learner here at Hartlepool College.
In December, the whole School took part in our “Meet the Engineer” day, where learners got to meet with various employers and apprentices from many of our industrial partners in an open forum setting. Free to question the engineers about their experiences in the working world, learners gained an insight into what was required to become successful in their various disciplines. Marc Lewin, lecturer in mechanical engineering and organiser of the event, said “This type of event is paramount in a learner’s journey; they help to link what is learned in the classroom to the engineering sector and give them an insight into what is going to help them develop into fully-fledged engineers, technicians and operators.”
Automotive engineering students got a taste of the competitive realm of motor vehicles in January with a trip to the Autosport International event, held at the NEC in Birmingham. From karting to Formula 1, the event showcases where their qualifications could take them in the world of motorsport and our learners gained valuable awareness of an industry they may not have originally considered. Also in January, our students experienced the higher education lifestyle as they spent the day at the University of Sunderland for an Industry 4.0 masterclass.
February has already been packed with enrichment for the School as all departments took part in the Skills Showcase 2023. This cross-college event sees vocational learners in every discipline participating in demonstrations of the practical skills they have developed as well as entering challenging competitions to demonstrate their ability. Fabrication and welding students proved their mettle with precision welding tasks, as did our mechanical engineers who looked at manufacturing parts within an acceptable tolerance – as judged by Bryn Flicker of Helios Engineering. Electrical engineers were challenged with programming robots to complete automated tasks. Refining glider designs was the testing task put to our aeronautical engineering students whilst those in automotive engineering put their experiences from Birmingham to use in a pit-stop challenge. Ben Glaister-Smith, engineering lecturer and Skills Showcase coordinator for the School said “This week of celebrating skills was a magnificent opportunity for our students to present the progress they have made in their workshops and practical sessions to staff and industry professionals. I see it as a vital addition to learners’ programmes whilst studying at this amazing College.”
Also on offer across January and February were a number of on-site visits to some of our industrial partners. Amongst these, engineering students got to visit Caterpillar Peterlee – the worldwide source of their famous articulated trucks – for a workshop masterclass as well as a trip to EDF’s Hartlepool Power Station. Insights into manufacturing and automation were on offer as electrical, mechanical and automotive students visited Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK in Sunderland – one of the largest and most productive car plants in Europe – with learners getting up close on the production line as a new vehicle rolled out of the factory every 59 seconds! Fabrication & welding students learned about material testing techniques and product failure diagnosis on a visit to Axiom Engineering in Stockton. Learners have also been visiting Wilton Engineering and Paralloy; some of which have led directly to apprenticeships. Our process engineering apprentices received Peter Keay of Tracerco Billingham as a guest speaker, delivering an important session on health and safety in the workplace and, to top it off, our aeronautical engineering students are in the process of preparing for trips to Eshott Airfield, RAF Duxford and the Paris Air Show; a diverse set of experiences for anyone looking to enter the world of aviation.
Richard Davison, Deputy Head of the School summarised “Our Student Experience programme in the School of Engineering is very strong and we are rightly proud of being able to give our learners opportunities that they might not otherwise get. Our School’s intent is to not only provide learners with qualifications but to transform their lives by providing them with knowledge, skills, behaviours, attitudes and, importantly, the confidence to succeed. This is what we do - these experiences are an integral component in a learner’s journey towards success.”