Martin Palmer undertook a placement as Undergraduate Engineer – Special Projects at Millbrook Proving Ground Ltd. The company are known for providing independent vehicle testing services to a wide range of clients.
The Mechanical Engineering student found the experience hugely beneficial from an academic and personal perspective, and secured a two-month extension to his original contract as well as an offer to return on completion of his degree. We met Martin to discuss his placement year in detail.
Describe a typical day.
Each day was very varied and I worked an eight hour day. Starting and leaving times were flexible however, so usually I would finish around 4pm and either head out for a bike ride with colleagues or have dinner with other undergraduates. On average I spent around one day in every fortnight off-site, either with suppliers or with customers for meetings, visits and quality control checks. These off-site visits were very valuable learning exercises, for example I visited an industrial scale additive manufacturing facility – I would not have been exposed to this scenario other than through work.
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Highlights included working as a Project Manager and Engineer for a contract amendment task valued at over £100k; being a System Engineer for two bespoke vehicle installations and being responsible for the design and integration of third-party equipment. A personal highlight was introducing additive manufacturing – also known as 3D Printing – to the department after compiling a business case, resulting in the savings of over £6k and 100 man hours for the company. I also went on a 10-day 800 mile cycling tour of France and Spain with five colleagues and travelled to Iceland, Cuba and California with the money I saved from my placement. I found my placement a fantastic all round experience. I left with an incredible sense of belonging and numerous good friends. I was given an extension at the end of my placement from July until September and then received a job offer to return on the completion of my degree.
What skills do you think you have gained from your placement?
I have improved my engineering skills as well as my organisational and social skills, meaning I have become more confident and out-going from the experience.
Would you recommend doing a placement to other students?
Yes, because after a placement the range of topics you can discuss at interviews is much greater, as is the content you can list on your CV. Employers understand that you have taken your knowledge and applied it, proving you are a viable candidate for a working environment.