This National Apprentice Week, three of our Level 7 apprentices give us an insight into what skills are needed to succeed, why they choose this route and what they hope to gain from doing this qualification.

 

Bilal Naeem

Bilal Naeem - Graduate Engineer – Hitachi Rail

What were you doing before joining Hitachi Rail and beginning your qualification?

In 2015, I graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Mechanical Engineering (BEng) from the University of Bradford. Following my graduation, I worked at a leading manufacturer before joining the Hitachi Rail engineering graduate programme in 2017.

What attracted you towards taking the apprenticeship route?

It provides the opportunity to learn and develop higher level skills with the support of both the university and Hitachi Rail. More importantly, I am able to apply my learning directly to my role in the business.

Give a brief overview of the details of the Level 7 programme.

The taught section of the Railway Systems Engineering and Integration course will be covered in two years on a part-time basis. Lectures for each module take place at the university in intensive one week blocks and they are assessed through a mixture of assignments and exams. The third year will be spent completing a dissertation project for which I’ll have the opportunity to focus on a subject area relevant to my role in business.

What’s the best part of studying in Birmingham?

Birmingham is a major hub of the UK rail network with increased government investment in railway infrastructure. Students on this course are often tasked with assignments relating to real local projects such as planning improvements of the Birmingham Cross-City Line.

What skills do you think are most important to be successful on your programme?

Each module consists of a minor and major assignment as well as two exams. It can all get quite overwhelming without good organisation and time management skills. Additionally, since some of the assignments are group based, likely with students from around the world, it’s important to be able to work well within teams.

What do you hope to achieve at the end of your masters?

I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the complexity of the railway system and be able to apply this knowledge to any role within the railway industry. Also, I aim to complete my application for Chartered Engineer status with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

Mark Henderson

Mark Henderson - Test Engineer – Hitachi Rail

What were you doing before joining Hitachi Rail and beginning your qualification?

I left school in 1998 and spent three years at college before starting a degree in Graphic Design. After one year I left University after deciding to make a change of career. From University I spent five years working as a Customer Service Representative for Orange and in 2005 I made the decision to join the British Army, as an Electronics Technician.  I left the Army in 2015 to focus more on engineering and joined Hitachi Rail working as a Manufacturing Specialist, Test Technician and now a Test Engineer.

What have you learnt that you can already utilise in your current role?

To date I have completed 2 of the 8 modules - Traction System Design and Strategic Management of Railway Operations, both of these relate to my current role as a Test Engineer. The full course focuses on Systems Engineering, an important discipline to help engineer effective railways. The course provides a holistic view of the railways and helps me focus on how our rolling stock integrates into this system.

How does it feel being back at university?

Many students are postgraduate and their ages vary all the way up to late 50s, so I don’t feel out of place and relish being back at university!

Would you recommend the Level 7 apprenticeship programme?

I believe those who have the opportunity to enrol onto the apprenticeship should. This course is like nothing I have experienced before in terms of education and networking!

Patrick Eacott

Patrick Eacott - Systems Engineer – Hitachi Rail

What were you doing before joining Hitachi Rail and beginning your qualification?

In 2015 I completed my Maths, Product Design and Science A-levels, I then went to Lancaster University where I studied Mechanical Engineering BEng.

In 2018 I was offered a job with the LNER engineering team at Bounds Green, which TUPE’d across to Hitachi Rail. Whilst working for Hitachi I have been based in a maintenance role having the opportunity to work across Train Maintenance Centre’s including Doncaster. 

What skills do you think are most important to be successful on your programme?

Organisation and hard work ethic!

What have you learnt on your apprenticeship that you can already utilise in your current role?

The module on Railway Traction System Design has been particularly beneficial. Being mechanically bias, this module has challenged my electrical principle knowledge which is a key skill I need in my job role.

What’s the best part of studying in Birmingham?

The railway department facilities are a really high standard and they offer a large scope when I come to picking my dissertation topic.  

Would you recommend this to your colleagues and why?

Definitely - the knowledge I am gaining will really benefit my career, however I would warn them they will have to really put the hours and commitment into the degree!