At the facility, based at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD), manufacturing apprentices can develop, maintain and build upon their skills, using the latest industry standard machine tools and inspection equipment.
Funded by the Welsh Government and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), AMSA aims to enhance the practical skills of engineering apprentices. Students can use the centre to gain hands-on experience with equipment for computer aided design (CAD), computer aided manufacture (CAM), computer numerical control (CNC) machining and co-ordinate measuring machine (CMM) inspection.
“There has been a skills gap in the Welsh engineering industry for many years, and a lack of funding means this gap has continued to grow,” explained Lee Pratt, academy manager at AMSA. “Working with world leaders in the field, such as Renishaw, enables us to address the skills gap by giving students hands-on experience with the modern technology they will use in their careers.”
“Our aim at the Academy is not just to develop the skills of students but to develop their confidence. Coming straight out of school to enter a modern manufacturing environment can be daunting. Students can use the Academy to learn in a comfortable environment and work at their own pace, to build confidence that will help them excel in their future careers.”
The Academy works in partnership with industry leaders, such as Renishaw, Mazak and Sandvik Coromant, who help to equip the facility and provide the knowledge and skills that engineers need for today's modern manufacturing environments.
Renishaw has installed the latest OMP60 in-process measuring probes and associated software to three of the Academy's CNC machine tools and has also supplied a co-ordinate measuring machine equipped with Renishaw sensors. The aim is to give students the opportunity to improve machining and measurement skills using industry standard equipment.
“By working closely with the Academy, we can ensure that apprentices have access to the state-of-the-art equipment and current knowledge that will help them make an impact from the outset of their careers,” explained Steve Franklin, area sales manager for Central England and South Wales at Renishaw. “As we continue to work with the Academy, we hope to see some of our own apprentices use the facilities too.”
The success of AMSA resulted in the Academy being invited to host the finals of Skills Competition Wales on April 21st and 22nd, 2021. Entrants, some of whom are apprentices at the Academy, were issued with a 3D model and 2D drawing and were given seven hours to produce the component using the equipment at the facility.
The engineers worked on site, following Covid-19 guidelines, to complete the task and understand more about the pressures found daily in a modern manufacturing environment. The successful apprentices were invited to an awards ceremony and be put forward to compete in the 2023 World Skills Competition in France.