College Engineering apprentices head off to national competition

A team of Engineering apprentices have secured their place in the WorldSkills Nationals after designing and building an electric wheelchair from scratch.

Belinda Nightingale, from Telford, Chloe Millington, from Bridgnorth and Tom Mills, from Shrewsbury, all 19 and Ricoh apprentices, make up the team. They were set the brief, by WorldSkills, to design and manufacture an electric wheelchair. This is the first time an Engineering team from Shrewsbury Colleges Group have applied for WorldSkills.

Tom said: “It was a challenging project and I’m proud of our achievement as a team.”

The Nationals will be taking place at Birmingham NEC on 15-17 November. The team will have to rebuild their wheelchair from scratch under the watchful eyes of judges. They will also be given a team challenge – the brief for this is to be given on the day, so they do not have the opportunity to prepare for this before they go. The three day event will be wrapped up with an awards ceremony to congratulate the winners.

Chloe said: “I am nervous for the Nationals, but I believe we have a really good chance of doing well. We did loads of research and went through three designs before we got to this prototype. We are even building another prototype before the competition – trying to make sure everything on the wheelchair is the best design it can be.

“I studied Product Design at A Level and really enjoyed it – taking on an Engineering Apprenticeship seemed the natural progression from that. I have three more years of the Apprenticeship and I’m appreciating every minute of it.”

Andy Tromans, Learning and Development Specialist at Ricoh said: “Ricoh are very proud of the team of apprentices. They are integral to our organisation and the pipeline for the future. I’m looking forward to watching them at the Nationals.”

Andrew Lee, Engineering Curriculum Leader said: “I am delighted for the team and everyone who has supported them in the competition so far – this is a testament to the skills and commitment they have developed over the past 12 months on their Apprenticeship. The progress they have made in this time in CAD, machining, welding, electronics and pneumatics, along with levels of company support and attending additional sessions with tutors in their own time is brilliant.

“We encourage students and Apprentices to enter competitions at Shrewsbury Colleges Group. It is a great way to build up their skills and character. We enter a range of WorldSkills Competitions every year and it is wonderful that this team of Apprentices got through to the Nationals on their first attempt, going against other global brands and household names.”

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