Joining Cambridge Consultants around three years ago as a tech scholar was the starting point of my engineering career. I was unsure of where I wanted my career journey to take me, so I originally applied and got a place at Imperial College London to study electronic engineering. But as it came to the end of my first year as a tech scholar, I decided that staying at CC for another gap year would be a great way for me to work and learn in a practical environment. My degree apprenticeship has been a learning curve for me so far, so let’s divulge into my experience to date.
I came to CC in my gap year with the intention to go to university afterwards, but the people and projects made it almost impossible to leave. After realising that I wasn’t quite ready for university life, I joined the mechanics and design team for my second year of being a tech scholar. I found this a super practical and hands on group to work alongside to observe how they tackle specific situations.
One of the best things about CC is that there is a vast range of projects to get stuck into. One of the first projects I got involved in was with the designers. It was a user study looking at whether or not people can infer emotions and indications from a robot. We ended up building a makeshift humanoid robot from a robotic vacuum cleaner, an Arduino, a few antennas, and a LED panel. I was lucky enough to see the project through to the end, where a fully autonomous robot was created.
Over the last three years, I have worked on multiple different streams, covering sensing, electronics, and mechanical simulations. It has been really cool watching the robot come to life, and it looks (and works) a lot better than a piece of pipe on a vacuum cleaner.
Spending two years as a gap year student was great fun and I was able to take part in the tech scholar project twice. In my second year, there were five people in my project group, with one person working remotely, so it was a small team. We looked at developing an autonomous prototype that can climb the stairs and it was motivating to see a project from start to finish. Since successfully winning the tech scholar project, we have had external companies reaching out to understand more about it. It was an enjoyable and dynamic way of collaborating with people my own age!
There really is nowhere else that offers what we do at CC. I always have the opportunity to pursue projects that align with my passions. It’s exciting to know that you can come in, explore other opportunities and you are never limited to just your job role.
Discussions with my manager surrounding a degree apprenticeship opportunity began towards the end of my second tech scholar year. Nothing like this had been done before, so I was the first to be an engineering apprentice.
What is it like to do an apprenticeship at CC?
I started my degree apprenticeship in October 2022 to study a Bachelor in Engineering with an Honours in Integrated Engineering at the University of Lincoln. My course is 80% online, except for going into university every couple of months to work in the labs. University for me is a proactive way for filling in my gaps of knowledge, and working has provided me with the skills to put my learning into practice.
For my apprenticeship, I have been lucky enough to be able to stay in same the mechanics and design group. And to complete the theoretical degree aspect of the apprenticeship, I need to pass the workplace specifics too. Everyone is very helpful when explaining things here, I feel supported in my studies. If there is something I want to review or deepen my knowledge in, then my colleagues are keen for me to try out projects in different groups, to get a sense for what I like.
A day to day in my apprenticeship is never the same. For most of the week, I am doing generic project work, fluidics, mechanics, and rapid prototyping. I spend time with other colleagues from around the business, which usually consists of discovering a new and exciting concept from someone. I have also been getting involved in client calls which has added great communication skills to my skillset. My time at CC has been so flexible and diverse that there is unlocked potential to uncover something new every day.
Some advice I would give to individuals that are early on in their career is to always go into a new venture with an open mind. CC provides you with a good opportunity to explore different sectors of the business which is perfect for someone that isn’t sure what their passion is. I have been able to figure out what I want to do here and have been supported throughout the process.
If you think an apprenticeship is the right route for your career path, then learn more here: Careers | Cambridge Consultants.