Carter Murphy, a fourth-year technical craft apprentice at JJ Churchill presents a typical working week in his life. Aerospace Manufacturing reports.
As a fourth-year technical apprentice in quality assurance at JJ Churchill, I’ve been given exceptional opportunities that few people in the UK get. I’m training in quality inspection, a critical part of any manufacturing process.
I work with a great bunch of more than 160 people in the firm, but have always felt a part of the team. I will graduate this apprenticeship with a Level Three extended diploma in engineering, but also with skills learnt from colleagues eager to share what they know. I’m planning on continuing with my academic development, commencing my HNC studies in September this year.
Every part that comes into JJ Churchill’s workshop is inspected for quality. Several times a month, JJ Churchill receives new equipment on which the apprentices are eager to be trained. We have a FaroArm portable CMM, which enables manufacturers to verify product quality. I am the only apprentice trained on the FaroArm, meaning that I have a role in the company’s daily operations.
My apprenticeship is a result of JJ Churchill’s membership in the 5% club, a scheme with high profile patrons such as Babcock, Kier, Leonardo and Lockheed Martin, and which operates through employers agreeing that 5% of their workforce will be made up of apprentices or graduates on formal training courses.
Leo Quinn, founder and CEO of the 5% club says: “The 5% Club was created so that employers – big and small, in every industry – would increase their ‘earn and learn’ training opportunities, raising people’s employability to help make sure that the UK is strong and successful.”
JJ Churchill supports and funds those going onto higher level education after finishing their apprenticeship, funding university degrees and HNC programmes. Along with several other apprentices, I represented JJ Churchill in parliament recently, raising both awareness of the value of apprenticeships and the profile of the 5% club.
Examples of the work that myself and the JJ Churchill team have worked on include developmental blades for the Airbus A350 Trent engine, the recently announced Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 engine and JSF through to Industrial RB211 production volumes and legacy demand for the Tornado RB199. Working in the machining industry is demanding yet exciting. I help ensure the quality of every part in the workshop, which is a lot of responsibility.
This apprenticeship has given me unique opportunities which university or a lower level entry job would not have provided. I work daily with blades, which vary in levels of criticality within the engine. Often, the melting points of the blades are considerably lower than the temperature which a jet engine will reach, which is why my work to ensure the correct sized holes in a blade, providing cooling, is essential.
Seeing is believing
JJ Churchill recently invested in a new optical vision system, an OGP advantage 450, which inspects parts using laser and optical guns. I use this machine in a project measuring the size of the holes within a blade to ensure the blades don’t overheat, causing engine failure. Few people my age are given the responsibility to do this.
Arguably the most challenging part of the apprenticeship is learning the form and function product knowledge. However, the process of machining a blade and knowing that it will help a jet fly is fascinating and gives fantastic job satisfaction at the end of the working day.
My advice to others unsure on which career path to take would be to consider the apprenticeship route. I was thrilled to join JJ Churchill and have really enjoyed my time in this apprenticeship. Although engineering wasn’t something that I’d always thought my career would be in, every day offers new opportunities to learn and develop my skills.