AN ENGINEERING degree has taken off thanks to a college partnership with a world-leading plane maker.

The collaboration between Coleg Cambria, Swansea University and Airbus has attracted high-calibre students to the BEng in Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering.

The second cohort graduated at the South Wales institution just weeks ago, having enjoyed working and studying at the Airbus factory in Broughton and Cambria’s multi-million-pound facilities in Deeside and Wrexham.

Salah Berdouk, Deputy Director for the Engineering curriculum at Coleg Cambria, said the popular aerospace programme – and a new degree in Advanced Manufacturing – have taken higher education and apprenticeships in north east Wales to new heights.

“Since joining forces with Swansea University the Aeronautical and Manufacturing degree has grown and grown, with our excellent results praised by the external examiner,” said Salah.

“That led to us launching a wider degree in Advanced Manufacturing which covers all aspects of the industry and saw us begin working with 16 companies in different areas, including Magellan Aerospace, Qioptiq and Toyota.”

He added: “The learners do not have to go into debt and are achieving a qualification that will see them factory-ready by the time they graduate, and because it’s not a full-time degree it’s much more flexible and attractive to the employers – it’s a win-win for them.”

Recreating the processes and systems used by the companies involved in an education setting puts Cambria at the cutting edge of new engineering and manufacturing methods, says Salah.

That and experiencing hands-on, practical and taught sessions at the £10m state-of-the-art complex in Bersham Road, Wrexham, and the £3.3m University Centre, Deeside.

“As well as learners applying for the foundation degree we have others joining us in the second year who’ve followed the apprenticeship route after achieving a Higher National Certificate (HNC),” said Salah.

“Being able to learn here, work at Airbus and other great global companies and then spend time at Swansea University Bay Campus gives them the best of both worlds. They understand the organisations they work for, but it also gives them a chance to embrace the student side of things.

“Our package is geared towards the companies and their future workforce, delivering bespoke courses for them. It’s a reflection of a real manufacturing and engineering environment, which is why so many people are joining us.”

Chief executive David Jones added: “I would like to congratulate all of the students who graduated and welcome all those who have joined us this year.

“We are very proud as this is an exciting new chapter for engineering and manufacturing at Coleg Cambria, in alliance with some of the biggest names in industry.”

Professor Cris Arnold, Director of Learning and Teaching in Swansea University's College of Engineering has been closely involved in the collaboration with Airbus and Coleg Cambria over the past five years and says the interaction with a world-leading industrial partner is of great benefit.

“By working closely with Airbus and Coleg Cambria we have been able to tailor our degree schemes to the current needs of industry, thereby making sure our graduates have the very latest engineering skills and understanding,” he said.

“The quality and commitment of the students on the scheme is excellent and as they are embedded within industry at the same time as studying, they are able to relate the academic study to the engineering applications which allows a very good level of understanding.

“The final year project is the culmination of this and allows students to work on current development projects within their company with support from academic experts at Swansea with access to our excellent experimental and computational facilities. This has led to some outstanding academic achievements with many gaining first class honours degrees.”

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