Reflections on my time as an Apprentice for Futureworx
By Emily Argyrou, Marshall Apprentice
I joined Marshall as an Apprentice in September 2019. At 19-years-old, I had already finished school with A levels in Maths, Physics, and English Literature and was excited to start on a new path that awaited for me. The Marshall Degree Engineering Apprenticeship is a four-year course and on its successful completion I will receive a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering – and a job within Marshall Aerospace.
For the first six months of my apprenticeship I worked on my hand skills at the Marshall workshop, learning to use different types of equipment and appreciating the time and skill required to work to compose a drawing and produce a product.
After this period, myself and other apprentices started our rotations in different departments within engineering. As a current 3rd Year Apprentice, I have had opportunities to work within a wide range of departments alongside very experienced and intelligent individuals which has allowed me to learn and grow my engineering skills.
During one of these rotations, I was very fortunate to work in Futureworx. I was with Futureworx for roughly four months and during this I time I was able to work on a range of different projects.
The main project, and one that lasted the duration of my time at Futureworx, was working alongside a company designing a high-altitude hydrogen powered Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Marshall was asked to compile and create all of the required certification documentation for the production of this company’s very novel product.
Within the first week, I had been tasked to produce a document for the client. I expanded my knowledge by attending weekly online meetings with the customer to learn more about the product. Personal research included reading customer supplied documents as well as online scientific research papers to understand the topic area in depth.
I also was fortunate enough to attend meetings at the customer’s headquarters. When phased by a question that required further knowledge, Futureworx Architect Graham Walker – a dedicated and highly knowledgeable individual – who would put time aside to discuss the question and ensure that I had a better understanding.
“This was the first ever piece of work that I had officially created that was received by a customer.”
Once I had written a first draft, the document went through our pre-release checking process and then presented to the Customer. I received the final copy and was amazed to find that my name appeared as the author. Although just a document, this was the first ever piece of work that I had officially created that was received by a customer.
This was a turning point for me within my time as a Marshall apprentice because it made me realise that I was capable and ‘on my way’ to becoming a qualified engineer. It also filled me with pride and encouragement that I was able to contribute to the team.
With this new confidence, I continued my Futureworx rotation getting involved in the creation of other documents and conducting more research. The team at Futureworx always made me feel welcomed and appreciated for the work that I delivered.
Another task given to me was working alongside Futureworx Architect Robert Atkinson for the practical testing of a refrigerated delivery truck for Marshall Fleet Solutions . A company had stated that they had created a system so that the refrigerator system would continue to function while the vehicle was turned off – whereby if a driver takes a lunch break they can press a button and the fridge will run without the key in the ignition. Our job was to test this system.
This was great first-hand practical experience for me as I learnt how log books were used and what safety equipment is required, as well as working in a very different environment to the office setting that I had become used to.
My GCSE and A Level physics came in handy as Robert explained about multimeters, currents and voltages, and together we attached all the connecting points to the vehicle so that we could take measurements in a test run. With Robert in the driver’s seat and myself with laptop in hand, we set off on a test run, driving the van around Milton Road, north of Cambridge.
The laptop displayed live results of the current and voltage measured at the connected locations which I then recorded and saved. I was then tasked to create a test plan detailing the investigation that went ahead and our concluding remarks.
So far, I have been very fortunate with the vast opportunities I have been granted at Marshall. As well as getting to work alongside the Futureworx team, I also attended the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) 2022 at RAF Fairford, In addition, I have been involved in women in engineering events and have successfully competed in the Sir Michael Marshall Lecture Competition. I am also a Launchpad volunteer. Launchpad is a Cambridge-based organisation that organises and conducts Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) events for schoolchildren in years 4 to 12. It is inspiring to work alongside young pupils of mixed ages, genders, and backgrounds to encourage them to work towards a STEM career.
All told, my journey so far as an aspiring engineer has been full of growth and opportunity, and I look forward to what awaits me in the future.