Every day, the engineers at MTI are working to solve complex manufacturing challenges through diverse applications of friction welding. They design the machines that help make our customers’ parts even better — and they’re passionate about their work.
Today, we’re pleased to introduce you to one of our Apprentices, Luke Barrett, 22 who talks us through how he came to be an Engineering Apprentice at MTI.
So Luke, how long have you been at MTI and how did you get here?
Well I started doing A-levels at college but after a year I realised they just weren’t for me- I just didn’t really enjoy the academic side. Both my Dad and Grandad were Engineers, and I used to do summer work experience with them which I loved. I heard about MTI through a college apprenticeship scheme and thought I'd give it a shot! Although I didn’t have any A-levels my interviews went well and I’ve now been here 4 years.
So what type of work have you undertaken in those 4 years?
I’m completing a SEMTA NVQ through Dudley college which means there are certain things that we have to cover. In my first year I moved around every department in the company, gaining general experience and knowledge in each area.
In the second year, I spent 6 months learning electrical engineering. This covers wiring machines, learning the technical drawings and wiring junction boxes and the main cabinets. I also worked in mechanical fitting which involved learning about the assembly of the machines, going from a single part to a headstock or tailstock assembly. I've also covered mechanical design which is a lot of computer based work, designing single parts and then designing full assemblies. I've also spent time in the machine shop using millers, lathes and CNC millers, and then finally I went back into design on the electrical side learning about electrical schematics and electrical drawings. MTI got very busy then though and pulled me back out onto the shop floor wiring machines and cabinets.
So how did the College and MTI appraise you during this time?
All of the apprentices do one day a week at college where we do lots of theory-based assignments based on the topics we've covered that semester. SEMTA also come to MTI to appraise and review the work we have completed and we have regular appraisals with MTI Directors.
So what now for you?
I’m currently halfway through a 2-year HNC course in Mechanical Engineering which has been funded by MTI. This course is all assignment based and covers more theory work such as the theory of engineering, working out currents, voltages, and weights along with mechanical science, electrical science and analytical methods.
At the end of the course, I’ll be a Level 4 qualified Engineer and have the choice to either go intofull-timee work or to continue education and complete a HND.
What’s been the best bit about your apprenticeship at MTI?
We get to go abroad to do a lot of ‘on the job’ learning. I’ve been to Poland twice and Italy so far to install new machines. After new machines have been tested at MTI they are then stripped down and sent off for delivery, I will go and put them back together at the other end.
What’s the biggest project you have worked on so far?
I’ve helped build a friction welder for KSS in Italy which took 10 days and a team off 4 to complete. I will also be going to Germany to help build a welder for Schmitz Cargobull which is one of the biggest we've ever built! This will be a 20-day project, working 13-hour days-it’s intense but enjoyable!
What do you think about your apprenticeship so far?
I’ve found it invaluable. I'm completely confident working on large machines now and have the knowledge to go out and work on my own. I particularly liked how we got to test out each department in the company as they are all so different.
I was never really academic and so engineering is a perfect career choice for my and I’m following in the footsteps of my Dad. I’m lucky I heard about MTI and they took me on as I don’t think engineering as a career choice is pushed in schools enough.
So what next Luke?
I will complete my HNC and hopefully bag a job with MTI in mechanical design. I loved working in the drawing office as although it's not based on the shop floor, I find that side of it really interesting. It’s very different to a stereotypical idea of what an engineer is but with the way technology is going, it will be so important to have these design skills.