Applying to University or for a Degree Apprenticeship?

Published: 09 Oct 2017 By Jordan Cook for

Jordan Cook Degree Apprentice ThumbnailIn 6th form whilst studying for my A Levels I decided to apply for both. I was interested in studying Aerospace Engineering. Once I received my grades I had a choice of studying Aerospace Engineering at the University of Sheffield or accept the Apprenticeship with Airbus studying Aerospace Engineering with University of the West of England. 

It was a scary yet easy option. I declined from Sheffield knowing the apprenticeship career route offered far more opportunities; I haven’t looked back.

I am particularly interested in the design aspect of engineering. Pre-A-levels I had gained work experience looking at design at JLR (Jaguar Land Rover) where I enjoyed working as part of a team. After only a short week there I realised: if I could obtain an Apprenticeship I would gain much more than just a degree.

At Airbus

My role as an Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering Apprentice involves doing a variety placements within Airbus over a forty-month period.

I worked in the Wing of The Future department, which aims to design new wings for 2025. The two key business objectives are to increase aerodynamic efficiency whilst doubling production output. It is an exciting project where I am given design challenges that contribute to the team’s performance. 

My goals are to develop myself technically and gain knowledge through experience but also believe it is important to add value back to the team. I am responsible for completing tasks given like any other employee. Exposure to the Airbus culture and work ethic has improved my own work ethos. The work at Airbus compliments my learning at University, offering far more real life experience.

Two Year’s On

I have received training in Catia, Computer Aided Design software used by Airbus and many other manufacturing companies. This has improved the quality and efficiency of my design process. It has allowed me to model and update designs quickly and makes if far easier to communicate information to colleagues in meetings. It also allows me to ‘design in context’, meaning the model can be created using reference geometry to size it correctly. In short, it enables the model to fit perfectly, even in a complex location. It is useful when designing a component within the wing.

Throughout the apprenticeship my communication skills have grown. My verbal and written communication has improved significantly, to listen and consider the opinion of others, interact with senior management and interact with Airbus staff abroad. This skill is transferable to all aspects of my life and has had a considerable influence on project management assignments at University.

I have also developed practical “hands on” skills in metalwork as part of my NVQ Level 2. This has given me greater appreciation of the manufacture of many components, which has further influenced how I think about design.

My greatest achievement to date has been the design and distribution of my leading edge bracket for the Wing of The Future project. I took the opportunity to pursue this avenue after witnessing a discussion about the existing design solution. I wanted to contribute to the program and see if my design proposals were competitive amongst the senior design engineers at Airbus. My solution had not been proposed or thought about and this had given me great confidence that I am a valued member of the team.

Apprentice of the Year 2017

Now in my final year, I was encouraged to apply for The National Apprenticeship Awards 2017. 

I try to make the most of every opportunity my apprenticeship offers. I believe, ‘you get out what you put in’ and take this ethos into every placement. 

I won the Regional Final and hope to be considered for the National Apprentice in a few months’ time.

I enjoy promoting apprenticeships to schools. From my own experience, I think there is still a stigma attached to an apprenticeship when compared to going to University. Many students don’t know that a degree based apprenticeship exists or the benefits they offer. I hope to be a catalyst for change.

Get the latest advice sent to your mailbox


Back to listing