"Its a win-win for the interns and manufacturers. "
Donna Edwards, Made Smarter
Students and graduates are landing jobs and career opportunities in the engineering and manufacturing industries, through paid work experience with Made Smarter.
With many internships and placements being delayed or cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, Made Smarter – a national movement helping SME manufacturers in the North West to adopt digital technologies - is bucking the trend by offering undergraduates, master’s and PhD students, and graduates from any UK university a golden opportunity to gain valuable hands-on practical experience, a taste of a potential career path, and a foot in the door of a forward-thinking company or industry.
Students are paid £5,760 for the 480-hour internships, which can be carried out full-time over three months or part-time to fit around their lectures and course work.
Interns are already playing a vital role in manufacturing businesses across the North West.
They have been working on live projects which are having a real effect on the business’s long-term success. Projects range from implementing new hardware or software to developing a digital road map and strategy to support their digital transformation. Businesses utilising the internships have gained fresh perspective and new skills into their business.
Made Smarter’s digital technology internship programme has already resulted in a number of students securing permanent jobs.
Luke Hickson, a master's postgraduate studying Industrial Digitalisation at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), secured a job as design and development engineer following a successful internship at Fabricon Design, an Ashton-Under-Lyne-based business which uses advanced manufacturing methods to produce innovative plastics, aluminium and steel component designs.
Luke, 22, who is originally from Middlesbrough, said: "Ever since I was young, I've had ambitions to become an engineer. This was my first experience of an actual manufacturing facility and was just what I hoped it would be.
“The placement was focussed on CAD design, 3D printing and product development.
“Fabricon gave me the freedom to learn and apply my design skills, while taking me through the ropes of learning all the functions of their operation.
"I have been able to incorporate some of my experiences as proof points in my academic work, and ultimately secure a job.”
Another intern to secure a job at a manufacturer is James Sage, a recent graduate master’s student in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Liverpool. He was matched with Fusion Implants, a manufacturer of high-performance veterinary implants from titanium using 3D printing, based at the university.
To develop a pioneering implant to treat condylar fractures in French Bulldogs, the business needed help analysing hundreds of CT scans using leading-edge biomedical software. James helped develop the project, which also used additive manufacturing to build and test 3D models and prototypes and was offered a job as Research and Development Engineer at the end of the placement.
Brett Turner, a recent master’s postgraduate in Industrial Digitalisation at Manchester Metropolitan University, used his internship as a platform to start his career.
With his academic expertise in 3D printing, he was matched with Lowlife Products, a manufacturer of aftermarket elevating roofs and furniture for leisure vehicles.
The Macclesfield-based SME retrofits 200 vans each year with its Stealth roof design and wanted to adopt 3D laser scanning technology to develop new products.
Brett said: “The internship experience was incredibly valuable simply because I had the chance to see how a manufacturing SME works from the inside. Up until the end of my master’s degree, everything had been theoretical. I’d never had the opportunity to go out on-site and see how things were run in real life. It provided invaluable insight.”
Brett said the real-life manufacturing experience at Lowlife Products helped him secure a job.
“My digital technology internship placement through Made Smarter proved to be a crucial stepping- stone into employment for me,” he said. “I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today without it! It really was a great thing to be part of.”
Alex Taylor, a recent master’s graduate in Intelligence Systems from De Montfort University Leicester is hoping to secure a job after impressing at Kendal Nutricare, based in Cumbria, a manufacturer of nutrition products including infant formulas and baby cereals.
He was able to apply his knowledge of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning to his internship project work.
Alex, 22, who is originally from Kendal, said: “The biggest benefit to me was getting real first-hand work experience outside of the classroom.
"I was able to apply my skills and knowledge to a variety of projects and help the business achieve real results which was hugely satisfying. I really feel like a valued member of the team.
"So often internships require a significant sacrifice from a student or post graduate where you are working effectively for free to get that experience on your CV. With Made Smarter you get paid, which really take the pressure off and feels much more like a real job.”
Made Smarter - the industry-led, government-backed national movement - has a wealth of small and medium-sized businesses looking to take on digital technology interns.
Donna Edwards, programme director for Made Smarter, said: “It has been fantastic to see so many talented students and graduates helping to realise the technology ambitions of many of the North West’s SME manufacturers.
“It’s a win-win for the interns and manufacturers. Students and graduates gain industry knowledge, transferable skills and real-life experience, while being paid the national living wage, and businesses can benefit from a fully funded digital native to help them to understand how new technology can transform production.
“Internships and work placements are a vital tool for students making that transition from university to employment.
“The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of opportunities, and a lot of uncertainty as to what will be available in the future.
“Made Smarter has been successful in linking digital technology interns to manufacturers all over the North West and I would encourage undergraduates in their second and third year, postgraduates at any stage of their course and recent graduates from any UK university to register their interest.”
For more information visit www.madesmarter.uk/digitalinternships