University expertise provides boost for engineers

Picture: Lorne Campbell / Guzelian Evangelia Tsaliagkou who is on placement at Advanced Actuators in Silsden, West Yorkshire.
Picture: Lorne Campbell / Guzelian Evangelia Tsaliagkou who is on placement at Advanced Actuators in Silsden, West Yorkshire.
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IF Yorkshire’s engineering firms are to compete on the world stage, they must be able to attract the brightest and best workers from around the UK.

Sadly, only around 13 per cent of the employees in UK-based science, technology, engineering and maths jobs are women, which shows that many firms are missing out on the opportunity to hire talented female engineers.

One Yorkshire company is working with a local university to help correct this imbalance. The hydraulic engineering firm, Advanced Actuators, which is based in Silsden, West Yorkshire, has joined forces with the University of Bradford to take part in one of the UK’s largest graduate recruitment schemes. Advanced Actuators is employing a graduate on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), which is a two year, part-funded Government project. The chosen graduate, Evangelia Tsasliagkou, has been hired as a mechatronics development engineer. She is working on the design and prototyping of power generators for remote valve actuation.

Ms Tsasliagkou said she was thrilled with the progress of the project.

She added: “Advanced has provided my first step on to the career ladder and for that I am very thankful. It’s a competitive world, and experience is vital.”

Chris Woodhead, the managing director of Advanced Actuators, which has 32 staff and a turnover of around £4.5m, added: “There was such a high calibre of graduates who applied for the project, and I believe we can provide work place training which will advance their specialist skills. Recruitment schemes like KTPs are essential for the future of our industry. The partnership has also allowed us to develop our business by linking with academia. We have full access to the university’s facilities and can tap into their knowledge by meeting with academics and testing their machinery.”

Melanie Powell, the business partnerships manager, at the University of Bradford, said: “On average, businesses that take part in KTP have reported an average £240,000 increased profit per annum. It is KTP’s 40th anniversary next year, and it is one of the longest running Government business support programmes, mainly because it does deliver what companies are looking for and helps them improve their competitiveness, productivity and performance by accessing the knowledge, technology and skills available through UK universities. In the past, girls weren’t really encouraged to think about engineering as an option.”

Ms Powell said there was now greater emphasis on encouraging girls to look at a wider range of career options.

She added: “There still needs to be a lot more mentoring and encouragement. Most universities work closely with their local schools to do this.”