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Students share creative ideas during Sellafield Ltd project

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  • News date: Oct '22
  • News author: Liam Waite

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LAKES College students have been developing creative answers to decommissioning challenges as part of a collaboration with Sellafield Ltd.

Learners have been embedded with some of the company’s teams at its Centre of Excellence base at Cleator Moor working on a six-week ‘sprint’ project, with eight planned throughout the year.

Each project has a different aim, with Sellafield and supply chain employees helping the students to develop innovative solutions which can be implemented across the site and the wider Nuclear Decommissioning Authority estate.

Level 2 engineering student Charlie Bowman was the first to take part, working with the Engineering Development Solutions team at the CofE.

During a week-long placement, Charlie learned about writing PLC code, battery management, power optimisation, UAV and ROV teams and crane brake training and showed an interest in the sprint projects, which led to an invite for him to take part in the next round.

Charlie said the tasks were crucial to improving his knowledge and skills, as well as building his confidence to share his ideas and perspective on problems.

“There were two things which I found to be really enjoyable,” he said. “The first one was being a part of team; this made work more exciting and easier, plus it felt like the days flew in.

“Secondly, my role as testing lead was really enjoyable. During this role I had a huge amount of responsibility to deliver accurate tests which would help us provide evidence to answer any concerns people may have had with our recommendations.”

Charlie admitted that acting as testing lead was a challenge, with responsibilities including work on writing the risk assessment, test record, testing criteria, scope of work and the final testing report, plus participating in every test completed.

But the guidance of the team meant that what could have been an overwhelming amount of work for someone inexperienced was made much more manageable.

Charlie added: “This experience has definitely helped me in my career.

“It has allowed me to make the decision that engineering is a career path I want to pursue, in particular down the project space.

“With the experience I have gained it makes me massively stand out compared to anyone else my age and, due to the platform the project gave me to multiple employers, I was offered an apprenticeship by a company involved with the project.”

Kevin Rishworth, delivery manager for the sprint projects at the CofE, said: “Everyone who worked with Charlie during the week commented on how engaged he was across all subject areas.

“He was very professional and demonstrated behaviours expected in a work environment.”

Charlie was so impressive during his time working on the project that many of his colleagues and visitors to the facility did not realise he was a 17-year-old student on placement rather than a full-time employee.

Kevin added: “Charlie was very professional throughout the six weeks and, based on the competence and confidence he displayed while delivering the project executive out-brief, was offered a summer placement at React Engineering.

“This was due to a senior consultant from React attending to observe one of their junior consultant engineers who was part of the project team.”

Charlie’s summer placement at React Engineering has now turned into an apprenticeship with the company.

Kevin said the project was important to ensure knowledge and expertise necessary to tackle decommissioning challenges is being grown and developed in Cumbria.

The final presentation day was attended by Sellafield Ltd and supply chain employers.