Apprenticeships provide practical, hands-on experience in engineering as well as a qualification and work experience. When Matthew Westbury, MTC Materials Apprentice Technician, finished his A Levels, he was looking to continue his education but wanted more practical experience than what university courses offered. An apprenticeship gave Matthew the practical skills he was looking for, as well as an insight into the many engineering pathways available.
Matthew quickly excelled during his apprenticeship, which was recognised in 2018 when he was a finalist for ‘Best Newcomer in Engineering’ in GTA England’s Apprentice Awards in 2018.
We sat down with Matthew to find about what it’s like to be an MTC apprentice and how the experience has helped his career.
Why did you choose an apprenticeship?
I chose an apprenticeship as I wanted to continue my education after sixth form but I was looking for a more practical experience than what was offered at university. I also knew I wanted to go into engineering but wanted experience in different aspects of the field before committing to a specific role.
Did you have a particular career in mind when you made your decision? If so, what and why?
When I chose an MTC apprenticeship I thought metrology was the pathway that most suited my interests and skills due to its precise nature, however through my time at MTC I found that I also enjoyed working in other areas of engineering that I would not have otherwise thought of.
What did you learn at the MTC?
At the MTC I gained skills in operating manual machining equipment, assembling mechanical and fluid power systems as well as how to program and operate CNC and CMM machines, PLCs and robotic arms. I also learned a great deal about how engineering projects are managed and the various roles and careers that exist within the scope of engineering.
Have there been any memorable projects/experiences from the training you received at the MTC?
I really enjoyed being able to use my experience and knowledge from completing A-levels to help and tutor some of the other apprentices that had come from GCSEs.
In terms of training experiences I particularly enjoyed manual machining, especially turning, as well as the measurement and metrology units. I also found the engineering project unit very beneficial to my knowledge as it gave me a chance to run my own project and give me a greater understanding of all of the pieces of a business that go into completing a project.
How has the apprenticeship programme been beneficial to you and your career?
The apprenticeship programme has helped my career greatly, giving me experience and competence in a wide range of areas throughout engineering as well as helping me to decide which pathway I wanted to take.
What would you say are the benefits and what advice would you offer to those looking to apply to the MTC apprenticeship programme?
The biggest benefit of an apprenticeship with the MTC is being exposed to all types of engineering before choosing which route you want to take. There is also a wealth of knowledge at the MTC with people always happy to help or chat about their experiences.
What are your main duties in your job?
My role is a Materials Labs Apprentice Technician at the MTC. My main duties are to work with customers to determine what they are looking for in a material analysis and how best to achieve this.
I also complete jobs requiring metallurgical inspection, to include sectioning, mounting, polishing and acid etching of various specimens, as well as analysing these specimens using microscopes and mechanical tests. I also ensure that the equipment we use in the labs is properly maintained.