Engineering students explore their career choices

Engineering students recently embarked on a site visit to BWSC adjacent to Discovery Park, Sandwich. This was an opportunity for students to explore a potential career path by experiencing BWSC’s biomass power plant during its last few months of construction.

The biomass power plant is a £250 million project, which has involved completing piling, steel fixing, concreting, steel frame erection, cladding, mechanical and electrical workings. Discovery Park’s electricity is provided by this plant (at the cost of £60m) and this is only 20 per cent of this site’s total energy production. A Danish company, BWSC has plants all over the world with nine projects in the UK and 975,000 man hours having been spent on this site alone. Construction first began in August 2016 and is due to be completed in August this year.

Students were welcomed onto the site and taken for a short briefing where Colin Dobson, General Manager, Erik Pederson, Resident Project Manager and Christian Simonsen, Mechanical Site Manager introduced their job roles and responsibilities on the site. Students were then shown a 3D plan which was constructed before any work took place and is referred to whilst the project is ongoing. This introduction provided the students with an idea of the different job roles that exist within power plant development and demonstrated the real life application of the software they have learnt to use on their course.

Erik Pedersen, Resident Project Manager, BWSC, said: “This project will enable our company to engage with students and help them to develop a stronger interest in construction. It is great to be able to work with the community to demonstrate the range of jobs that exist in this industry.

“Creating links between industry professionals and members of Canterbury College encourages young people to build the key skills that will enable them to work in this exciting industry in the future.”

Erik then took the students on a tour of the site, explaining how the wood delivered to BWSC is used in the production of energy. Erik reinforced how this renewable process involves sustainable developments such as utilising diseased trees which would otherwise harm the environment and making sure that trees are cut down in a way that enables them to regrow. The plant is only able to process pure wood due to the chemical composition of materials such as MDF.

Dan Cosier, Engineering & Product Design Diploma Level 2 student, said: “Trips like this will help me to get a job in the future, it is a great chance to explore possible job roles. It is also great to know that this is a sustainable company that is doing its best to prevent deforestation.”

Following the tour, students were able to ask any questions they had about the processes that occur on site at the biomass power plant. Christian Simonsen then demonstrated how there are multiple pathways into a career at BWSC. He had initially worked as a welder and had then taken a university course at a later stage in his life in order to study mechanical engineering. With 25 years’ experience Christian verified that there are many routes into a career in engineering.

Luke Rust, Engineering & Product Design Diploma Level 2 student, said: “This was a really interesting experience and we’ve learnt a lot about working on this site. I will now consider this as a potential career for my future.”

Colin Dobson, General Manager, BWSC, said: “With an ageing workforce we need to get the younger generation involved in engineering and we are hoping that this site visit will help to inspire students. Engineering is a fascinating career choice and it great to have the opportunity to get students interested. We may well look to take on apprentices in the future and this is a good way to lay the groundwork for that.”

Looking to inspire the construction professionals of the future, the Pettit Group helped to arrange this visit for our students. As one of the largest construction projects in Kent over the past 18 months, this has been a great opportunity for our Engineering students to visit an ongoing project in order to explore their next steps in the working world.

Why not take a look at our Engineering courses.