STEM Foundation

XYZ Machine Tools secondment updates lecturer's knowledge

New College Durham mechanical engineering lecturer Nick Richardson has boosted his skillset through a secondment at XYZ Machine Tools.

As one of the largest further and higher education colleges in the North East, New College Durham delivers high quality vocational training across a number of sectors. And within its Engineering Department, as well as investing in machine tools, the college is also developing the skills of its staff. 

The college first bought machine tools from XYZ two years ago and when the opportunity arose for Richardson to develop his existing skills in CNC, he took advantage of it. This was aided by funding support from the New Engineering Foundation (Innovation Institute), through its project to place further education lecturers involved with STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) in industry to update their skills and knowledge, with the aim of revitalising their teaching. 

Says Richardson: "The industrial secondment provided an excellent opportunity to update my existing skills by using and programming XYZ CNC machine tools under supervision. We went from the basics of learning to set tool offsets and part datum through to programming some complex components. Throughout the week I was guided by XYZ's application manager, Mike Corbett, who ensured that I was up to date with ISO and macro programming functions, and fast machining of complex 3D forms. 

"The practical knowledge gained has been tremendous. I would highly recommend the experience, the secondment allowed me to take on board the knowledge over an extended period of time. The amount that I learnt during my time at XYZ exceeded my expectations and I am grateful to NEF and XYZ for a tremendous experience." 

There is a knock-on benefit to his time at XYZ Machine Tools, too, as he feels that his colleagues will benefit from his ability to cascade the acquired knowledge down to staff and then to students. 

Says XYZ's Mike Corbett: "Education is an important element of XYZ Machine Tools business, so giving time to support those directly involved with educating the future generations of engineers we see as an important role for us. It is reassuring that colleges such as New College Durham are enthusiastic over making sure that their teaching staff remain up to date in what is a fast changing environment." 

Recognised as the top performing college in the North East and ranked second nationally in 2012/13, New College Durham has set itself very high standards, particularly in the area of full-time vocational training, apprenticeships and higher education options, where it works in partnership with industry to prepare students for the real-life working environments. In order to deliver on its promises the College recognises that teaching staff also have to be up to date with working practices and life outside of the academic arena.

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STEM > Innovation Driven Education