The future is bright as young Ministry of Defence engineers in Plymouth scooped top national prizes.
The successful apprentices attended the National MOD Annual Engineering Apprentice Award Ceremony and despite only recruiting 15 apprentices per year at HM Naval Base Devonport, won top prizes to ensure Devonport was recognised for the quality of advanced engineering apprentices.
Top prize for Individual hand skills went to James Doonan, whilst the team awards went to Axel Nicks, Kersey Segger, Alex Holwill and Alex Colley, with a special Sir Henry Royce award being presented to James Thompson.
James’ award was one of four comprising the annual Tom Nevard Apprentice Competition held at The Defence Academy of The United Kingdom in Shrivenham. The brief was to design and manufacture a mortar weapon, either water or air-powered in four days.
He said: “I’m very pleased to win this award after what was a week of hard work, but ultimately a very enjoyable experience throughout. It was great to be in the company of so many fellow engineering apprentices in the defence industry from across the country to share our knowledge, experience and get the opportunity to form new friendships with people; who we may well end up working with in the future
“I was very proud to represent DE&S Devonport at this prestigious event and bring back an award on their behalf. Devonport apprentices brought back five awards in total which is an impressive result, and goes a long way to confirming how important the Devonport MOD Apprenticeship Scheme is and the calibre of apprentices it produces.’’
Contestants were limited to the types of materials and pressure from a hand-operated bicycle pump. The mortars were then fired and judged by a panel of guest engineering experts on material selection, design process, ingenuity and engineering knowledge. Candidates were also scored on how far three projectiles fired from the mortar went, how much distance there was between them and the total time taken to fire all three.
James said: “Though I didn’t manage to fire off the full three rounds on the day due to technical issues – outside temperature and sunlight affected the seals on the pressure vessels, which affected everyone – the projectile I did fire went the furthest in distance at 65 meters. This result, in combination with the judging scores gained over the set criteria helped me secure the win.’’
Lorna Stubbs, MOD Apprentices Development Manager, said: “The experience and qualifications the apprentices gain whilst working within Devonport naval base equip them for an amazing career as an MOD employee, within a management role. Experience includes working alongside ships and submarines in project management roles and undertaking leadership and management training. Adventure training is also included to build on team- working skills. The excellent results reflects the quality of apprentice we recruit and develop.’’