A day in the life of the Workshop Apprentice

We would like to introduce Kyle Hallett, our Mechanical Workshop Apprentice, who recently spoke to us about his experience as an apprentice within the Department of Oncology.  Kyle works alongside John Prentice, Workshop Manager, and Gerry Shortland, Senior Workshop Technician.  His answers to our questions are based on a typical day working in the Department's busy Mechanical Workshop. 

Can you talk us through an average day working in the Department of Oncology’s workshop?

No two days are the same at the Workshop. I have been involved with a variety of projects from simple things such as the inspection and maintenance of vacuum pumps to more complex projects including apparatus used in image guided surgery. A typical day could include drawing up designs using CAD software, talking to customers about engineering problems and using the Workshop machinery to manufacture devices for use in Cancer Research.


What did you make for your college project and what influenced you to choose this? 

For my college project, I designed and built a prototype mechanical iris for use in radiotherapy. I wanted the project to be useful to the Department and to use this project to test and improve upon my engineering skills.


What are your supervisor(s) and fellow colleagues like?  Do you work independently or are you part of a team?

I work as part of a small team with two other technicians who support the work of researchers within the Department. Since the start of my apprenticeship I have learnt a lot working with more experienced staff. I have felt that my contributions are valued and the Workshop environment has always been friendly and supportive.


Did you always want to go into the career you are doing or were you unsure and what made you choose the path you have gone down?

I have always been a practical person and felt engineering would be a good career for me. I studied product design at school and really enjoyed the process of designing and making and using my hands and knowledge in order to solve problems.  


What skills and experience have you gained? 

I have become more confident, gained practical skills including CNC machining, hand fitting techniques such as filing, and also broadened my theoretical knowledge of engineering from my tutors and teachers at college.


Now you have completed 2 years of your apprenticeship, what are you doing now?  What are your plans for the future?

I am currently finishing a Level 4 HNC Engineering Course, and after that I have the opportunity to stay with the Oncology Workshop, or there is a possibility of working in another Department of the University.


For people thinking about apprenticeships, what advice would you give?

I would certainly recommend apprenticeships to anyone who is considering their career options. The benefit of doing an apprenticeship is that you gain practical experience and recognised qualifications, with the added benefit of a salary. When deciding on an apprenticeship, the most important thing is to be interested in what you are doing.

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