Normally, engineering students studying at Durham University would visit TTE’s Teesside base for a two-week programme that would see them get hands-on experience of machines and processes they’d be likely to encounter in the workplace. When COVID-19 struck and the lockdown came into force, TTE’s team of tutors were determined to make sure the students didn’t miss out, and so they developed virtual training materials including a detailed simulator and video walk-throughs.
Bob Metcalfe, TTE’S digital resources coordinator, built a virtual milling machine simulator – modelled and programmed from scratch to mimic one of the most common pieces of equipment found in workshops and used for machining custom parts.
John Cooke, operations manager at TTE Technical, explained: “This is a really impressive bit of modelling, and gives students the chance to get their hands on this equipment from the safety of their own homes.
“It’s fully interactive so students can learn about all the components of the equipment, how to operate it and see it in action. “It’s opened up new possibilities for our training – meaning practical sessions can be delivered at distance.”
Normally around 200 students on Durham’s Professional Engineering Applications (PEAC) course would visit TTE and get to try their hand at activities such as welding, fixing an engine and working in confined spaces. This year the tutors have also created a library of video lessons, including detailed walkthroughs explaining everything from Pascal’s Law and how it relates to hydraulic power to how to program industrial automation systems.
John added: “We’ve been determined not to let the lockdown get in the way of students’ progress and thanks to a lot of hard work in creating these materials quickly, we’ve been able to do that.
“Hundreds of learners – including the Durham students and many more – have continued their studies towards vital qualifications that are the building blocks of technical jobs.
“On Teesside, and all over the world, industry is gearing up for the recovery period and our students will play a major role in that as they move on to vital technical jobs across the chemicals, energy and manufacturing sectors.