Mechanical Engineering student, Olanrewaju Nasiru, spent his placement year as a Manufacturing Engineer at Cummins Power System in Daventry. Olanrewaju decided to undertake an industrial placement to gain invaluable experience and a deeper understanding of the various career routes an Engineering degree can lead to. We met up with Olanrewaju to find out more about his year in industry with Cummins.
Describe a typical day on placement.
On a daily basis, I directly dealt with the assembly line as Cummins primarily produce engines and generators. It was my duty to support the assembly line during the build process by employing the services of various software and application. Normally, issues presented themselves down on the line which required me to respond. Issues ranged from sorting out process documents for building certain components onto the Engine, confirming what the New Engine Build Sequence requirement was for fitting components or torque values, as well as requesting new electrical tools. Common issues that I had to resolve were the operators being unsure how to fit a certain component, finding out the correct routing for a wiring harness, or answering queries regarding parts structured in the Standard Bill of Materials (SBM). I was also required to look at designing various lifters, trolley jigs and fixtures which were fabricated for my line.
One highlight while working at Cummins, was the launch of the QSK78 Construction Belaz engine on my line. At this time, my supervisor was on holiday and so the entire line had been left in my care. Obviously there was always help in the office from other engineers, but predominately I was responding to every call down to the line. There were several issues presented during the engine build sequence and I had to seek help from various departments to resolve these issues. I had to document and create work instructions on the go for the engines; as on this occasion there had been a breakdown in communication resulting in these batches being launched without the adequate preparation in place. I had to look after the build process all throughout the stages whilst dealing with other issues on the line. It was a very positive experience for me as it ensured I had maximum exposure to the entire process involved in engine build. It also encouraged me to work collaboratively with various engineering professionals from other departments to solve production issues. Another bonus of working at Cummins, was that the company offered the MPDS accredited scheme by the IMechE; meaning my placement year counted as my first year of industrial experience towards my Chartership. Finally, I also was involved in the selection of the next placement students across Assembly & Test Man. Eng. and VPI departments. I worked with the current placement students and narrowed down all the applicants to the desired number using the "Selection Matrix" to pick the best and invite them to the assessment centre. This gave me the opportunity to experience the selection process and therefore, understand what employers look for on a CV and in a person.
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How do you think your placement year will increase your employability when you graduate?
My placement year encouraged me to fully integrate myself into the company and its ethos. Although I was only a placement student, I believe I became an integral part of the Manufacturing Engineering department by developing strong interpersonal relationships with my colleagues. I had the support of my supervisors and manager where needed and the work I did was of real value to the company. I also found Cummins Inc. were greatly invested in the placement student programme by organising training in team building exercises and various software packages or applications such as Ease Process Planning. I believe the placement has given me a competitive edge and boosted my employability potential for getting a job after University.
Any advice to prospective students who may be considering a placement year?
I’d advise students to definitely go for a placement because it’s worth their time. There’s nothing that can be compared to the experience you gain from taking a year out on Industrial placement. I can say confidently that a lot of things I know now couldn’t have been learnt within the four walls of any classroom. The transition from being a student to a working professional completely changes your reasoning, thinking and your general approach to a lot of things. Now I don’t believe there’s any issue I can’t get around as long as there are some tools nearby. Every challenge presents an opportunity to have solutions proffered. A placement will also ensure that you stand out from the crowd and get a clear advantage as employers prefer employing graduates who have previous experience in a similar field. I also suggest students find a placement that offers them the chance to access skills beneficial to their chosen career path. Lastly, remember that because you’ve been with a company during your placement year, you already have one foot in the door when it comes to getting a job after graduation. Companies can even offer you employment before the end of your placement - who doesn’t like having everything sorted for them before the end of their degree?!