Thomas has been working for E.ON since he left school at 16. He started on a four-year apprenticeship and have worked there full-time ever since. He sets and operates a variety of large machines such as milling machines, lathes, grinding machines, and vertical and horizontal boring machines.
What is your typical working day like?
My working day varies. We can get some batch jobs that can last a number of weeks where I work on similar operations. But we also get a lot of larger jobs that can require a lot of setting and different machining processes. I really like the variety, plus I like the fact I’m working on components that can be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
What is the most exciting project you’ve worked on?
I was recently part of a team that helped to remove the shaft out of three old LP rotors for Ratcliffe Power Station. The cost of manufacturing new disks for three new LP rotors would have been massive, plus the waiting time is two years so we salvaged the disks from the old rotors ready to put on the new shaft. We removed a lot of material and made loads of swarf!
You started your career doing an apprenticeship. Can you tell us more about it?
I did my NVQ level 2 and 3 through Sutton Coldfield College in Birmingham, as well as my BTEC National Certificate in Mechanical Engineering. I also did a part time course in 3D AutoCAD design. Since then I recently completed a foundation degree in Mechanical Manufacturing at Aston University and I’m applying to the Open university at the moment.
Why did you opt to do an apprenticeship?
I chose to do an apprenticeship because I wanted to do something hands-on and I had always been interested in engineering. I didn’t enjoy school very much so I wasn’t keen on the idea of going to college at first but it was completely different and I loved it. I really enjoyed my apprenticeship as I finally felt like I was learning something that was actually going to use in the workplace. Plus getting paid to go to college is great!
What do you hope becoming an Engineering Technician (EngTech) will do for your career?
I want to progress myself within the company and I think gaining Engineering Technician status should help me with that. I also hope that it will help me reach my goal of becoming an Incorporated or even a Chartered Engineer in the future.
Would you recommend it?
If any other apprentice or technician is interested in developing themselves, then yes.
Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years' time?
I definitely want to stay in power generation. I want to get more experience on the actual power stations themselves so I can understand more about how they work. In five years' time I’d like to have a solid amount of experience behind me of working on site. And in 10 years, I’d like to be helping with the design process behind power generation.
What was your favourite and least favourite subject at school?
My favourite was maths because I was always quite good at it but I never enjoyed German language although I wish I did because it would have been quite useful now!
Is there any engineering project (current or past) that you wish you could have played a part in?
I’d like to have a go at working on the new wind turbines that are being built.
Is there any job other than in engineering that you’d like to try out?
I’m always watching programmes on modern building design and architecture so something along those lines would be really interesting.