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“Students Evening”

Past Students of the ICME Diploma Course

Monday, 12 March 2018

Branch Senior Vice President Darren Pritchard, MICME, extended a warm welcome to members and guests to the March technical meeting. This evening is to recognise the work of ICME in the education of the next generation of foundry leaders and to celebrate the success of the students from the various courses. To begin the evening Darren introduced Paul Gullick, FICME who opened with a history of foundry education in the UK.

The first attempt at foundry education and training was the founding of the British Foundry School in 1933 although it took until 1935 before the first students were enrolled. War forced the closure of the school in 1939 and it took until 1947 and the establishment of the National Foundry College before there was any foundry specific education again.

In 1966 political intervention, and not student numbers, forced the closure of the National Foundry College. Staff and equipment were transferred to Wednesbury Technical College. The new facility offered both a HND and a college diploma in foundry studies. Other colleges began to offer similar courses and for a while foundry education thrived.

Several events in the 1980’s / 1990’s eventually resulted in reducing student demand until no college was offering foundry specific education. These events included the termination of the EITB grant levies, offshore sourcing and foundry closures.

The ICME understood just how disastrous this situation could be for the UK foundry industry and were determined to ensure that there would be training for our future foundry leaders. In 2013 ICME partnered with Dudley College and the Diploma in Casting was developed with EAL being the awarding body. In 2015 ICME opened a training centre at Newby Foundry in Wednesbury moving the diploma course there whilst Bradken hosted an adult training facility. In 2015 the first 10 students completed the diploma and received their certificates.

Following the success of the diploma ICME developed the Certificate in Casting for those students who were unable to attend the diploma course. This was a condensed version of the diploma taking around half the study time and held within company. It was designed so that it could be tailored to the needs of the company if so desired.

More than 50 students have gained a diploma or certificate since the programme began and are now back in industry and making a positive contribution to their company. Today there are four centres around the UK where ICME can provide education and training and currently there are more than 40 students studying there.

After giving this background detail Paul introduced Nigel Timmins, Nathan Tucker and Gareth Roberts past students who have benefitted from having attended the diploma course. Each spoke of their career in the foundry industry.

Nigel Timmins was employed by Boro’ Foundry who have been big supporters of the ICME training initiative from the outset. They gave Nigel the support and encouragement to complete the diploma for which he expressed his gratitude. Boro unfortunately could not offer Nigel the career progression he needed and he moved to Grainger and Worrall. Nigel moved a couple more times before moving to his present role as Technical Engineer with Chamberlain and Hill foundry. He believes that the technical knowledge and confidence he gained from his time on the course has been key to his success.

Nathan Tucker began his foundry career with Thomas Dudley as a sand technician. He progressed to Technical Engineer then New Product Introduction Engineer and finally to Production Manager at their new facility in Tipton. Subsequently he left to join James Durrans with whom he spent some time in China gaining an understanding of that market. In Nathans words attending the course enabled him to develop his foundry technical knowledge and a greater understanding of the industry to which he is now fully committed.

Gareth Roberts had little understanding of casting production when he joined Lestercast in the inspection department. Gareth had a desire to progress but he and the company realised that he needed to gain a better understanding of foundry processes and technology. After considering and rejecting a mechanical engineering course they were put in touch with the ICME. He joined the 2015 intake on the diploma course having been made Sales Apprentice but on completion of the course he was promoted to Methods and Sales Engineer and in 2017 he received the Peter Nix Award for best student from a non-ferrous foundry or related industry.

All three students recognised the impact that the foundry education they received from ICME has had on their careers and stated that ICME must try and attract more young people into the foundry industry and continue to offer good quality training and education. They said that ICME must get the message out there that there is a good future for people entering the industry and to promote it as a challenging, exciting and rewarding career path. The competition for young people going into work is fierce and the foundry industry has to do more if it wants to attract the best.

The vote of thanks was given by John Willetts, Prof MICME after which members and guests enjoyed the buffet provided by the branch.