From education to employment

Students complete engineering sustainability challenge to gain vital employment skills

Six students gave up time in their summer holidays to take part in an engineering sustainability challenge which has inspired them to pursue future employment opportunities.

The aspiring engineers, all from West Cumbria and either at college or having just sat GCSEs, spent eight days on a project looking at ways of reducing carbon emissions at Sellafield Ltd’s Engineering Centre of Excellence at Cleator Moor.

The summer sprint project was the first of its kind and was set up by Lorna Devine, Sellafield’s Engineering Development Solutions Lead,  in collaboration with Lakes College and the Centre for Leadership Performance.

For the project the students were given a £250,000 budget and asked to recommend the most effective ways to lower carbon emissions at the Engineering Centre of Excellence and contribute towards Sellafield Ltd’s long-term goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

The students spent a week on the project at the Engineering Centre of Excellence, working with the Sellafield team and gaining personal development coaching from the Centre for Leadership Performance, followed by three days working on the project at Lakes College. 

The students researched and evaluated their solution options by focusing on three categories:

  • Reduction: lowering the usage of power 
  • Alternative: using different, off-grid, sources of power
  • Culture: people’s opinion at the Centre of Excellence; stakeholders’ opinion

At the end of their eight days of project work the students presented their findings to Engineering Centre of Excellence’s senior managers at a specially-arranged project outbrief event held at Lakes College on Wednesday (August 23).

Those attending were presented with the following recommendations by the students to deliver to the brief most effectively and within budget: roof insulation; tinted/stained windows; double/triple glazing; wind energy; and signage with carbon reduction messaging.

The students – Jackson Benn, from Moresby (who attended Lakes College);  Dylan Penn from Cleator Moor (St Benedict’s); Dylan Stalker, from Egremont (Lakes College),  Harley Berragan from Cleator Moor (West Lakes Academy); Aaron Currier, from Whitehaven (Lakes College); 

and Keegan Holliday from Workington (Workington Academy) – all explained how they had learned from the pilot summer sprint experience. 

As well as enhancing their technical skills, the students were asked what personal development they had gained from the project. They said it had improved their communication skills, ability to develop ideas, time management, ability to work independently, adapt to working in a new environment and with new people, learning from experienced engineers, improved their knowledge of what working on a project involves and enabled them to work as a team.

Craig Branney, Sellafield Ltd’s Head of Off-Site Developments said the next step from the pilot project was to ensure there were career pathways into employment for those who took part and others in the area interested in pursuing engineering qualifications.

Craig said:

This is our first summer sprint working with Lakes College and the Centre for Leadership Performance and it has been a really positive experience. What is crucial now is how we work together to make sure there are job opportunities for them in the supply chain. 

“We have given them their first taste of what an engineering career involves. For me now it’s vital we find out how we complete the loop and get them into employment.

“This is only the start. What would be great is to develop this first summer pilot into a full six-week sprint project in future years involving several supply chain companies as well.”

Lorna Devine said:

“It’s been great to work with students who have all volunteered to be here. They are such a great mix with some looking to start on engineering degrees, others looking for an apprenticeship and they have all come together to work really well as a team and have been inspired about a career in engineering which is great.”

Sharon Baillie, Lakes College Business Engagement Manager, said:

“The students have shown fantastic commitment to take part in the sprint and develop their skills in their own time. This is going to stand them in good stead when they are looking for employment.”

Sophie Reynolds, Centre for Leadership Performance’s Workplace Programmes Manager, said:

“It was really interesting to see such a big change in the students from the start of the project to the presentation just ten days later. They have all come a massively long way.”

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