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Hear from the Apprentices

Hear from the Apprentices

Ashley Parkinson has been a technical apprentice at the National Composites Centre since 2013 and is finding it a great experience. Read more about Ashley's engineering apprenticeship journey and get inspired!


Why did you choose to be an apprentice, rather than go to university or straight into work without any additional training?

I’m a kinaesthetic and learn better through hands on experience. I felt that through being an apprentice I would learn all the current and up to date information rather than waiting for it to filter down through the educational system. The whole 'earn as you learn' prospect is also somewhat appealing compared to the debt attributed to getting a university degree.

What was it about engineering that made you choose it as a career?

I like starting with nothing and ending with something, being able to be creative, to design and make something to overcome a problem or make a job easier gives me a real sense of achievement.

What has been the most beneficial part of the apprenticeship for you? 

Meeting new people and creating a good network of contacts that I feel will be invaluable for the future success of my career. Only through an apprenticeship can you obtain such a strong network of industry professionals with a wealth of knowledge and information.

Where do you hope to be by the time you're 40, and how do you intend to reach your goal?

By the time I reach 40 I would like to be the managing director of my own composite manufacturing business. Making parts to supply the automotive, marine and aerospace industries. Measures are already well under way to ensure this goal is achieved.

How would you describe, to a young person, what your company does?

The National Composites Centre is a research and development centre for composite materials and composite manufacturing processes. We are commissioned by companies such as GKN, Rolls-Royce, Airbus, BAE etc to research how best to make their latest composite components. The NCC also conducts tests on new composite materials to log into a library for the future development of new materials and components.

What is the most interesting project you've worked on?

A project that stands out the most to me was when I made some thermocouples to be attached to the new land speed record car (Bloodhound SSC) whilst the cars adhesives were being cured in an auto clave. This granted me some up close and personal access to the car and crew which was an incredible experience.

What advice would you give a 16 year old thinking about engineering as a career?

If I had to give any advice to 16 year old looking at getting into engineering it would have to be, first of all do what you love. There are many different types of engineering to choose from, so chose an area and specialise in what you love. Secondly, whenever I’m doing any work I always remind myself that all work, especially in engineering, should be done to the very best of your ability.

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