HNC Electrical and Electronic and Manufacturing Engineering students from Northumberland College visited Thermo Fisher Scientific earlier this month, to work with a continuous improvement team to develop new methods of improving production at its Cramlington factory.
Thermo Fisher, who manufacture state-of-the-art medical products, invited students from Northumberland College to assist their work team with a manufacturing issue they had that required the use of Kaizen - the continuous improvement process that is championed by Japanese manufacturers and is an industry standard problem solving technique used to improve production processes.
After taking part in a range of introductory and training sessions provided by the company, the students were allowed to join the manufacturing team on the shop floor, taking part in a range of different tasks including Gemba walks to map the assembly process, team meetings and planning, product building and using the laser cutter and 3D printer to create fittings.
The students were able to bring a fresh perspective to the company's error proofing technique, due to their knowledge of different manufacturing techniques from their course.
Northumberland College's Mechanical Engineering lecturer, Richard Brückner, said: "Visiting Thermo Fisher Scientific was a fantastic experience for the students. The opportunity to engage with real life production processes, become part of a professional team and deliver an engineered solution is invaluable for tomorrow's engineers."
Seven students were part of the process, including 19-year-old HNC Mechanical Engineering student, Mellisa Hedley, who is the only female in the group.
Melissa said: "This project has given me so much confidence, knowing the skills I am currently learning can be so valuable to a workplace environment is really positive to know. Our manufacturing techniques were able to prove the concept of assembly jigs working online to offer a variety of options, which is great."
The College are now looking to further develop a relationship with Thermo Fisher, to create additional work experience placements for other students too.
In the North East over 40,000 people are employed within engineering occupations and industry within engineering occupations and industry forecasts predict this figure will remain steady by the year 2020.
When looking at the UK as a whole it is estimated that by 2020 approximately 450,000 more science and technology technicians will be needed.
The UK will need about 87,000 graduate level engineers per year over the next ten years - labourmarketnortheast.co.uk
Northumberland College's £2.5m state-of-the-art centre for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) will be the home to Engineering students as of September, equipped with the latest in engineering equipment to train future engineers in areas including Hydraulics, Pneumatics, programmable logic controllers (PLC) and Robotics with state-of-the-art facilities including 3D printer and scanner, virtual welding machine, industrial robot, Hydraulic rigs and simulation software and a modular clean room with Class 10,000 (ISO 7) specification.
Richard continued: "The quality of the education and experience gained during the week is a testament to Thermo Fisher Scientific's commitment to developing STEM and working together helps put our students ahead in the competitive environment of modern industry."
Those who wish to study an Engineering course with Northumberland College should visit www.northumberland.ac.uk for further information.