A day in the life of a mechatronic apprentice

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My name is Will Johnson and I am an apprentice Mechatronic Engineer at Mechatronic Solutions. Here at Mechatronic, we deliver world-class automation solutions to diverse industry sectors through innovation, engineering excellence and first-class customer service.

Apprenticeships give you the kick start in your career that most, if not all employees look for. You will be able to gain skills, knowledge and qualifications that will benefit you in more areas than you think. Some of the best things about being an apprentice are that you get to learn major skills from experienced individuals, and you also gain the extra support and guidance you need as you make your way from studying to a life of work.

As an apprentice, there is never a time where I will be set a single task for the day. Each day I am set with a variety of tasks that cover all areas of mechanical engineering. I will alternate between studying at EEF and working at Mechatronic Solutions, developing highly technical skills.

machine 

Above: A pneumatic system

machine2

Above: A machine chamfering a hole in a block of aluminium

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Above: An automated feed system

One of the subjects I studied at EEF is Engineering Drawing This lesson is very important within this career as it helps every apprentice at Mechatronic get a visual understanding of the technical machines that we build. Another lesson I have studied is Business Operations. This subject provides myself and the other Mechatronic apprentices an understanding as to how an engineering business is run, and the effect the business has on the country. All the skills and knowledge that I gain throughout my apprenticeship will stay with me my whole life. They are skills that will help me develop towards my goal of becoming a successful mechatronic engineer. Not only will I have achieved valuable qualifications, but I will also have the work experience to go with it.

During my apprenticeship, I will be covering many different areas of engineering, ranging from mechanical build where I will be building our complex, and high tech machinery, electrical wiring and panel build, software programming and 3D design, using the latest software, such as autodesk inventor. I am currently working with our mechanical team so that I can understand the core of our business. These tasks include;

  • Working on a lathe or milling machine to gather the experience I need for machining. I have been given small tasks, which include drawing the part before it is made and then making it on the machines.

  • Pneumatically piping our machines – this can include plumbing the pipes between valve banks and cylinders or other pneumatic equipment. We do this because pneumatics is one of the main ways in which we mechanically operate our machines.

  • Cutting aluminium extrusions and then the manufacture of our bespoke guard systems. This is an integral part of any machine build within Mechatronic.

  • Operating a machine or helping to operate one with an engineer. A machine that is designed and built in Mechatronic will not leave the factory before there has been a Pre-Production Trial test (PPT). This is a stage where we will operate the machine to its full potential so that it will meet the customers’ requirements and more. The PPT is important with every job that is being built, because we need to make sure that it is fully operational so that it will be ready when it arrives on the customer’s site.

After gaining the role as an apprentice, I felt that I have gained several different experiences, which I know I would not have been able to learn if I were to take a different route in my career. There are several different reasons why I believe an apprenticeship is the best route to take: I have gained vital hands-on experience and my apprenticeship has given me the confidence to work in a team and as an individual. I have also gained communication skills, which are a very important component of professional life and my social life. All of which will stand me in good stead for the rest of my life.

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