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A bridge between the workshop and the real world

Inside manufacturing 2017-08-17 Mattias Karen Edward Shaw

The Sandvik Coromant e-learning programme Metal Cutting Technology helps metalcutting students at Kirklees College in the UK gain the in-depth knowledge they will need out in the real world.

​Metalcutting students are often more interested in practising their skills in the workshop than in reading theoretical textbooks. So for schools educating the workforce of tomorrow, finding ways to combine theory and practice can be quite a challenge. At Kirklees College in Huddersfield, UK, students are using the Sandvik Coromant e-learning programme Metal Cutting Technology to help develop the skills and knowledge they will need in the future.
“This programme helps bridge the gap between the workshop and the real world,” says Dylan Wannan, one of about 30 mechanical engineering students who are using the MCT e-learning programme at Kirklees this year.
Engineering lecturer Paul Cartwright introduced MCT to the curriculum at Kirklees three years ago after learning about the programme at an exhibition. He was looking for a way to complement the college’s teaching material with an interactive learning tool that could get students more interested in the theoretical aspect of metalworking.
“It’s interactive, and I think students prefer this way of learning,” Cartwright says. “There’s something happening all the time, and it’s an intuitive system that makes them think. It helps them focus on understanding the process and developing the in-depth knowledge they need.”

​The MCT e-learning programme, which is free, teaches theory and application in areas such as turning, threading, milling and drilling. At Kirklees, engineering students spend about 2 ½ hours per week in metalcutting class, which is a mix of workshop activities and classroom learning through MCT. For schools working on a limited budget, it’s a perfect way to teach students how to use more expensive materials and tools that aren’t available in their own workshop.
“People often focus only on the tools they use at work, and this programme allows them to get a wider scope and understanding of things they don’t work with every day,” Cartwright explains.

​Many of the students at Kirklees are in an apprenticeship programme, where they combine their studies with work at subcontractors, manufacturers and other companies. And the skills they’re learning from MCT are already being employed at their jobs.
“The other day I was working on a complex process and I took a picture of a formula in MCT and used it to calculate at what speed I needed to do the processes,” says Ashley Boyles, who is apprenticing for a company specializing in centrifuges.
Both the teachers and students at Kirklees are well aware that there is currently a shortage of skilled workers in the metalcutting industry. E-learning tools such as MCT can help the situation, Cartwright says, both by making the material more accessible and by keeping students up to date with the latest developments when it comes to tools, technologies and processes.
This all helps students see that there are good reasons to be excited about a future in the industry.
“I like the fact that when I build something, it can go anywhere in the world,” says Chris Briggs, another of Paul Cartwright’s students. “It’s a way of leaving a legacy.”  



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