GLOUCESTERSHIRE — Roxanne Pollard, a mechanical design engineer at Renishaw, has been awarded the TATA prize, which is given to the highest achieving part-time student at the University of Wales. Pollard, a former Renishaw apprentice, achieved a first-class honors degree in mechanical engineering.

Roxanne studied her A Levels at The Link Sixth Form, near Yate, Bristol, where she discovered her passion for product design. She joined Renishaw in 2010 as a Technical Apprentice in Mechanical and Electronic Engineering, completing an HNC and an HND before starting her degree.

Roxanne went on to complete a mechanical engineering degree at the University of South Wales while working at Renishaw four days a week.

Throughout her studies, she helped develop new metal additive manufacturing (AM) machines to streamline the AM process and improve end results.

“When I was at school, I thought university was the way forward,” explained Pollard. “Before starting at Renishaw, I completed my A Levels and even had a place at university.

“I decided that an apprenticeship would suit me better than university, as I wanted to get stuck-in and gain practical experience,” she continued. “During my time at Renishaw, not only have I completed a full honours degree, I've also worked on cutting-edge projects. This has built my confidence and improved my practical skills.”

“There is a misconception that apprenticeships are simply an alternative to university,” explained Chris Pockett, head of communications at Renishaw. “However, around 70 per cent of Renishaw's apprentices go on to achieve full honors degrees, developing their academic abilities, at the same time as gaining practical hands-on experience.”

Pollard has already won several awards for her A Level project, an innovative bicycle safety helmet. The design won her first place in the Chipping Sodbury Rotary Club Competition and first place in the Manufacturing Technologies Association's TDI Challenge.

She then entered the design into the Big Bang competition where she was a finalist for the South West and was awarded the Scientific Instrument Makers Young Engineer award. Pollard then represented the United Kingdom in Los Angeles, US at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

The budding engineer has since become a freeman of the London Livery with the Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers and was awarded Apprentice of the Year at the Gloucestershire Women in Business Awards in 2014.

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