GLOUCESTERSHIRE — Global engineering company Renishaw opened the doors of its Gloucestershire headquarters to 108 school students for work experience in July 2016. The students took on a series of engineering projects to get a taste of what a career in the field entails. The Renishaw work experience program aims to inspire more young people to consider STEM careers.

A total of 96 Year 10 and 12 students participated in this year's engineering work experience programme with a further twelve taking part in a separate coding and software engineering week-long scheme. Over the rest of the year, Renishaw also offers commercial work experience opportunities in its marketing, finance, legal and sales departments.

This year, the first group of engineering work experience students undertook a project to design a magnetic levitation track and carriage. In the following week, the second group of students were tasked with designing a versatile measurement instrument accurate to 0.5 mm or better. The projects build on the physics curriculum, allowing pupils to apply classroom knowledge in an industry environment.

The students work on the projects according to Renishaw's product development process and use project plans and timelines as if they were Renishaw engineers. The work experience week also develops the students' skills in presenting, teamwork, report writing, budgeting and project planning.

“A worrying Engineering UK report recently forecasted that the engineering skills shortage will cost the UK £27 billion a year by 2022,” explained Julie Collins, education liaison manager of Renishaw. “Addressing the skills shortage is vital to the UK economy. Renishaw hopes to work with young people to inspire STEM career choices as a part of addressing this urgent skills shortage.

“Some students who apply for work experience with Renishaw might already know they want to work in engineering, but others apply purely because they enjoy STEM subjects,” continues Collins. “There is a huge buzz around the week and we have had excellent feedback, with some students leaving enthused about a potential career in engineering.”

On the final day of the project, the student teams presented the prototypes to senior Renishaw board members. William Lee, group sales and marketing director, and Geoff McFarland, group engineering director, attended the presentations and offered their feedback to the students, who were also presented with a certificate of attendance.

The work experience weeks have been awarded full recognition by the Skills for Stroud Work Experience and Employability Charter.

Applications for Renishaw's apprenticeship schemes, including a degree-level software engineering apprenticeship, open in December.