Cressall

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Electrical firm benefits from closer collaboration with education

Following a series of successful work placements, Leicester based electrical firm Cressall Resistors is calling for more local firms to support engineering work placement and apprenticeship schemes such as the one run by De Montfort University.

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Cressall Resistors currently has two students on placement from the Faculty of Computing Sciences and Engineering at the University. They are Helen Benjamin, who has already been offered a job at the firm to begin after her degree, and John Shaw, who started in June. These two are part of a continuing and long running project.

However, the origin of Cressall’s relationship with De Montfort University goes back to a fire in the company’s office in 2001. The company drafted in some students to help with the clean up operation. As well as their sterling efforts in returning the office to normal, the students were able to lend a hand in other ways. Although the fire was relatively small and almost all mission critical material was protected from it, some drawings for a project that was underway were scorched. One of the students, Victor Fernandez, was studying engineering design and he set about producing a set of drawings that replaced the damaged papers.

Eventually, the drawings Fernandez produced were used as part of this degree coursework. In addition, when he left University Fernandez joined Cressall’s design team and stayed for nearly three years.

Tony Harris, who has responsibility for managing the student recruitment process within Cressall explains, “I think it gives us fresh ideas, partly because students often use our computer aided design tools in different ways. When a project they have been involved in comes to fruition, we see an enormous sense of satisfaction.

“I think these sort of schemes are good for industry overall. I started as an apprentice, at GEC in Birmingham; simply because I had an interest in making things work. I don’t see many people following similar routes into engineering now. However, work experience is a good move in the right direction. I would like to see more firms support institutions like De Montfort,” concluded Harris.

The Faculty of Computing Sciences and Engineering at De Montfort is among the largest in the country and places students into a range of disciplines including pharmaceuticals, IT and food as well as electrical engineering. Placements typically last three or twelve months. Tracey Harris, the placement administrator at De Montfort explains, “While the student doesn’t arrive as an expert they do bring technologies and ideas that sometimes aren’t in place already. However, they are also learning and developing themselves and this can really strengthen their skills base. We find that academics that go straight into the final year of a degree without a gap year in industry don’t have the same edge. This is often reflected in their degree results and employability.”

Interested parties can find out more about the Faculty of Computing Sciences and Engineering work placement schemes at www.dmu.ac.uk/cseplacement.
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