‘Class Of 2014’ Sees Industrial Placements As Key To Career Development


The benefits of work placements and investing in the engineers of the future have been highlighted by a profile of two young engineers by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

Joshua Humphrey and Michael Pateman were two of 100 new members to take part in an event to celebrate joining the Institution and were keen to highlight the importance to their career development of their time spent at Elta Fans. Joshua and Michael undertook their industrial placements with Elta in 2011 and 2012 as part of the company’s ongoing student placement programme, an important element in Elta’s commitment to training and investing in the future of the HVAC industry. Now qualified as Engineering Technicians MIMechE, they both cited a childhood fascination with how things work as the impetus to consider a career in engineering and selected courses at the University of Portsmouth.

Elta Fans Head Office is in Fareham, Hampshire and has strong links with the nearby university, regularly offering work placement opportunities to undergraduates in the sandwich years of their mechanical engineering degree courses. Joshua and Michael both worked in Elta’s Research & Development Department and Joshua comments – “My main role as an Undergraduate Engineer was performing performance and acoustic tests to British Standards on new prototype fans. The projects were very dynamic and varied from new ultra efficient impeller designs to large fabricated agricultural fans.

So not only did I and the rest of the team have to test these prototypes, but also build various novel apparatus to attach these fans to the testing equipment.” In choosing Elta for his industrial placement, Michael saw the opportunity to get a better appreciation of how products actually work – “Coming from a product design background I chose to pursue a placement in an engineering firm purely because I am a strong believer that function is far more important than form especially in the development stage of a product.”

He continues – “Whilst completing this placement I learned a huge amount of fundamental engineering practices ranging from simple tolerances and torque settings to basic welding and sheet metal fabrication. I was given the chance to work on existing products and prototypes completing extensive testing. In this regard, a key skill I honed was the ability to plan out testing procedures and completing them accurately whilst gaining the most information possible. I also learned a large amount about sheet metal and unique fabrication techniques as we had to build custom test rigs complying with ISO standards.” Phil Kirkham is the Development Engineer responsible for the student programme at Elta Fans and sees the training and development of personnel as vital to the success of the company and to the future of the HVAC industry in general.

He said – “We have a number of development initiatives at Elta and the work placements offer experience of actual products and projects which helps the students to apply the theories they have learnt, as well being beneficial to our own engineers as it keeps them up to date with all the latest thinking and technologies. In addition, we also make sure that investing in our own employees is always central to what we do. After all, with schemes such as Continuing Professional Development – which we are big advocates of at Elta – we improve the performance of staff members which helps to improve our capabilities as a business, ultimately benefiting our customers.” Joshua Humphrey (left) and Michael Pateman, EngTech Members of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Photograph by Peter Luckhurst, courtesy of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers .