University of Bournemouth student David Clucas recently won an award for his third-year placement at Productiv. Here, he talks about why he chose engineering in the first place, and how a year in industry could help shape the future generation of engineers.
I’ve always been a keen inventor. When I was little, I drew sketches of things that I wanted to make and could often be seen outside, playing with bits of scrap metal. My dad and granddad are also technically minded, so engineering was a logical step for me to take.
I’d often been advised that the best way to get the job I wanted was to study hard and get good grades, so I did A-Levels in physics, maths and economics. There was just one problem: they weren’t practical enough. My feet were itching to move on to engineering — to something that wasn’t just taking notes and reading books. By the time I finished my exams, I was ready to get stuck in.
After my A-Levels, I had two options: apply for an apprenticeship, or apply to university. I chose the latter, largely because I wanted to keep my options open, try lots of different things and find my own path. With that in mind, I applied to do design engineering at Bournemouth University, which is where I first found out about Productiv.
Like most universities, Bournemouth offers third-year placements to students in engineering. These aren’t compulsory, but they provide a great opportunity to get out and experience the real world. I wanted to get more hands-on, so I decided to look at different engineering companies across the UK.
Productiv ticked all the boxes. Being a smaller company, it had more opportunities for graduates and placement students to get involved and feel like a part of the team. It also offered a wider range of experiences with both Productiv and the SMEs based at its facility in Coventry.
From day one, I was involved in the design engineering aspects of key projects. I even got to see these elements as they were manufactured and assembled, which was very rewarding! Working with and learning from experienced engineers helped me to progress my skills, build my confidence and better understand the world of work. By the time I reached the end of my placement, I was the first port-of-call for reviewing engineering drawings!
Learning to fly
Placements like this are a wonderful opportunity for students to see their designs go from screen to manufacture. They also supplement your degree because you can put what you’ve learned into practice, while gaining the technical experience you need to get you through your final year exams.
These opportunities will become even more important as the older generation retires. We need to harness its skills and experience quickly to build the next generation of engineers, but we also need to be more open in accepting engineers from different backgrounds, whether they’ve done a degree, an apprenticeship, or a BTEC.
My advice to any aspiring engineers? Network hard and take advantage of as many placement opportunities as you can. Whichever route you choose, getting stuck in is the right way into the industry!
Interested in taking your university education to the next level? Visit our student and graduate opportunities page to read more about our placements.