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Reaching for the stars in the West Country

Posted on 05 Jan 2022 and read 1488 times
Reaching for the stars in the West Country The image of Cornwall being all beaches and pasties couldn’t be further from the truth as the county boasts a burgeoning high-tech manufacturing sector, with aerospace, medical marine and satellite communications sectors leading the way.

To meet the growing need for engineers, the South West Institute of Technology facility located at Truro and Penwith College’s Truro campus has invested £7.2 million to create a dedicated facility that includes an extensive machine shop equipped with a number of machines supplied by Devon-based XYZ machine Tools.

The machine shop will provide training in CNC machining, toolmaking, mechatronics, fabrication and welding. Students will develop skills to HNC Mechanical and manufacturing Engineering, BTec, as well as the new T-Level technical-based qualification developed to ensure that skills meet the needs of industry while ensuring the student is prepared for the work environment, with an end-point assessment ensuring these criteria are met.

Brand new facility

Engineering lecturer Andy Foulks said: “There is a huge demand for skills in the region and as a training provider we have to be able to deliver those skills. Therefore, our first job was to modernise the workshop — in fact we built a brand new facility. We then had to get rid of all of the stereotypical equipment and bring in the right machine tools to develop the skills of our students.”

XYZHe continued: “XYZ Machine Tools has bent over backwards in terms of the support that it has provided, from initial quotation through to machine installation and ongoing training and support. It is certainly customer-focused when it comes to the education sector with nothing being too much trouble.

“Our students are also welcomed at the Burlescombe factory for visits and additional insights and training on machines. Our role is to ensure that we keep up with industry requirements, hence the investment in CNC machinery.”

At the heart of the workshop is a selection of 21 XYZ machines, ranging from the manual XYZ 1530VS trainer lathes and XYZ 2000 knee mills with DROs through ProtoTRAK-controlled mills and lathes to the latest XYZ 660 HD vertical machining centre.

Mr Foulks continued: “With the facility we now have, we can focus all our energy on the students and apprentices to ensure that they are ready to add value for their employers. We have a lot of high-end, high-technology, companies in Cornwall and we strive to provide them with apprentices that can enhance their businesses.”

With the variety of XYZ machines available, apprentices can make a natural progression throughout their time at the college. Furthermore, as part of the new apprenticeship standards they are working towards achieving the most up-to-date apprenticeship in the engineering sector.

UK’s first satellite launch

Adding even greater interest, the college is working alongside Spaceport Cornwall, which is collaborating with other aerospace organisations, including Goonhilly Earth Station, Cornwall Council and Virgin Orbit, to deliver the UK’s first satellite launch from Cornwall in 2022.

As a result, Truro College apprentices will be given the opportunity to be involved in machining prototype parts for the satellite. Truro and Penwith College has extended its connection with space and aerospace by creating the Cornwall Space and Aerospace Technology Training Project (CSATT), which is the first dedicated space training centre in the South West that will provide training opportunities for people in Cornwall covering apprenticeships through to foundation degree level courses.

XYZMr Foulks added: “Projects such as this ensure that the time spent at college is a pleasure, not a chore and having the wide choice of machines from XYZ Machine Tools allows our students to develop their own projects, confidence and skill levels.”

Engineering team lead Nick Tillyer, who had previously worked with XYZ to develop training facilities at Truro College, said: “XYZ Machine Tools has proven to be a reliable and collaborative partner to work with, the consistent support coupled with solid advice and guidance had been critical to delivering our new facility.

“This is the second time XYZ have pulled out all the stops for us, I am looking forward to continuing our excellent working relationship with our new engineering and STEM centre in Bodmin which is due for completion in the second quarter of this year.”