A year in the life of a placement student!


Well, unfortunately the time has come for us to say goodbye to our university placement student Peter Appleby.  But before he gets to enjoy the summertime we managed to catch a few moments with him to discuss his placement.

Firstly, we would like to thank Peter for the time he has spent with us and his contributions to the different departments he has spent time in during his placement.

Peter joined us for the third year of his B.Eng degree studying at Oxford Brookes University to gain valuable hands on engineering experience.  And hands on it certainly proved to be, in fact much quicker than Peter was anticipating!

What exactly does a placement at a contract manufacturing company look like?

How the placement was spent

The first month and a half Peter joined the team on the factory floor learning how to operate our machinery such as the press brakes, laser cutters and presses.  Peter says ‘some of my most valuable lessons came from my time in factory, learning to weld in particular, a skill I’ll now hold for life.’

When asked about our approach to organising student placements, our MD Gordon had this to say ‘we expect all our placement students to learn how to work the metal first and foremost.  They need to understand how the metal behaves and what the equipment is capable of before they can ever fully appreciate the design process.  It’s also important that they understand the pressures our production team face day in day out.’

Moving on from production Peter then spent 3 months with the maintenance team keeping both the factory operational and ensuring all our products can be manufactured efficiently and to the quality expected.

On reflection Peter says ‘I think the time I spent in maintenance was probably the most enjoyable of my placement.’

From here Peter moved into the design office.  The first challenge was to learn the design software the team operate which is SolidEdge.  Peter has gone on to design 6 products and oversee them from customer approval through to production. Some of which are already being shipped to our customers.

On reflection

Peter feels that the placement has been a much better experience than he anticipated (thank goodness!).  He has really appreciated the ability to be so hands on, an area which can be often be lacking back at University.  But perhaps the biggest learning has been people skills and how to deal with different people, attitudes and motivations in order to get the best out of everyone.

What the future holds

We have no doubt that Peter will be successful wherever his career takes him from here.  Whether that is another company benefitting from his skills or using them to carve out his own entrepreneurial path we wish him every success.

If you are interested in joining us for your university placement and gaining the same skills as Peter please contact chrissie.rowlinson@rentokil-initial.com