Here at The Manufacturer we are passionate about encouraging the next generation of engineers into our industry. We are proud partners of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) for their Apprentice Automation Challenge.
The Apprentice Automation Challenge 2021 is now open for entries. The event provides a brilliant opportunity for talented apprentices to compete in an innovative design and manufacturing challenge to improve an everyday home or garden device.
Organised by the Institution’s Manufacturing Industries Division’s Young Members Committee, it engages with teams of apprentice engineers to design, develop, and build a fully working system that solves a real-world problem.
We caught up with Jason Yearsley Design Engineer for Rolls-Royce in Strategy and Future Programmes UK and Chair of the IMechE Apprentice Automation Challenge to find out more.
Jason spoke of the origins of the competition and why it is so vital, saying “The idea behind it was to enable apprentices to have the opportunity to get a bit more in depth knowledge of the process of taking a product from concept stages through to mass production.”
He continued, “Alongside business case, marketing, assessment of the market, and everything else that would go into taking a product to market, which would probably include a lot of skills that they wouldn’t have chance to develop early in their career. Even extra skills such as teamwork in community communication and project planning as well. I think everything goes into them organising themselves to create a product.”
Apprenticeships are a great route into a career in engineering, equipping people with the skills needed to be an asset to any business. Empowering apprentices to showcase their skills and giving them a platform to be creative is essential for growth and instilling confidence.
Jason said, “I think that the competition is key for celebrating the accomplishments of apprenticeships and allowing them to showcase their skills, show how good they are and how good they are going to be. I think it is key part of building the future of what our societies will look like, as well as everything related to engineering.”
“It really important to try and celebrate the apprentices and get the word out there about how rewarding and interesting their career and engineering can be.” He continued.
The competition is judged by a panel of industry experts and the winning team get a prize of £2000. Jason explained the process “We have a range of judges from various manufacturing industries. They are all very interested and keen to see what the apprentices have to offer and offer their feedback and maybe suggestions for how they could improve on their work as well.”
The competition has been seen as a success with some companies who have previously entered making the Automation Challenge an integral part of their apprenticeship programme. Jason explained “Leonardo, have actually built this into our flagship program. It’s great to see that they’ve actually incorporated that into their own scheme. They also allow the previous years team who entered to mentor the following years team. That gives them a mentoring experience as well afterwards.”
Team Motus from Leonardo, who won the 2020 Challenge testified “It has been rewarding for us to learn we can follow a lifecycle management process through to completion to deliver a product on time, to budget, with great market potential. We’ve all become more confident in our abilities to see a project through and we look forward to using the skills we’ve gathered together on future innovation.”
Registration for entrants is open and we would like to encourage all of our readers with apprentices to consider putting a team together to enter this year’s competition. Click here to find out more about how to get involved.
We’ll be following this year’s competition closely as always so keep your eyes on The Manufacturer for updates on this amazing event.
Images supplied by The ImechE