Manufacturers go back to school

Jane Gray brings an update on TM’s campaign to see one manufacturing leader appointed to the governing board of one secondary school in every county in England and Wales.

More good news this month. Andrew Esson, managing director of fluid hydraulic systems company, Quick Hydraulics, joined the governing board of Monkseaton Middle School in Tyne and Wear. Mr Esson’s daughter will attend the school from this September and he is keen to ensure she and her peers gain a thorough education in the application of STEM subjects to engineering and manufacturing challenges.

It’s an appointment we are happy to celebrate, though it falls outside TM’s specified aim to appoint manufacturing governors to secondary schools. So we are still keen to hear from schools and industry representatives in the Tyne and Wear area!

Another step forward has been made in perhaps the most unexpected region – London. Ernest Bevin School’s staff assumed it would be impossible to find a local manufacturer to join its governing board, thinking that there is negligible production within the M25.

Happy to be proven wrong, the South London-based school is now in talks with Dr Siavash Mahdavi, director of 3D printing company Within Technologies which is located in Wandsworth, barely 15 minutes drive from the school.

Explaining why the idea of becoming a school governor appealed to him Dr Mahdavi told TM: “It is important to provide exposure to what manufacturing businesses are achieving early on in a young person’s education. Engineering is an enabling discipline. There are great careers available in industry, but engineering also includes highly transferable skills which will keep opportunities in the City and other sectors open.”

So inspiring more students to take up engineering is not just self interest on the part of Within Technologies, but about wanting more young people to wake up to the importance of engineering skills to so many segments of the economy.

That said, Mahdavi admits that it wouldn’t hurt to encourage a stream of future recruits. “It is difficult to find the people we need – skilled stress, software and mechanical engineers. We have three or four positions open now which we cannot fill.”

“I set up in London and New York because I, and the guys I’ve brought on, did not want to accept that we’d have to spend the rest of our lives travelling from one industrial estate to another”

Brimming with opportunity

It’s a frustrating situation for a fast growing company, using exciting technology, which has a lot to offer. “The 3D printing market is growing around twenty five per cent every year, so it’s actually hard for us not to be doing well at the moment,” says Mahdavi who established Within Technologies at its current base four years ago and has just opened another site in New York. “There are five people out there at the moment but that will go up to about fifteen in the next few months.”

Within Technologies designs and prints products for two major customer categories – aerospace and medical. For the former it offers specialist capabilities in creating lightweight titanium components. For the latter it provides complex lattice structures for surgical implants which promote osseointegration – the mechanical interlocking of bone and implant as the bone tissue grows into the insertion.

Work with these growing industries implies a stimulating career with secure prospects. The cherry on the cake however, for the parents, staff and students who will gain so much more knowledge of Within Technologies and its environment should Mahdavi’s governor placement go ahead, is that the company offers competitive graduate starting salaries of around £30,000 and an accompanying lifestyle which confounds stereotypes. “I chose to set up in London, and now in New York, because I, and the guys I’ve brought on, did not want to accept that we’d have to spend the rest of our lives travelling from one industrial estate to another.

“The nature of 3D printing means we don’t need the space traditionally associated with manufacturing facilities. So we can be in locations where we can still enjoy the convenience of restaurants, bars and theatres on the company’s doorstep.”

To nominate an individual or school as the next target for TM’s Back to School campaign contact j.gray@sayonemedia.com or w.stirling@sayonemedia.com.

@janefagray