Name: Stephanie Woodhouse
University or college attended:
1st year HND in Mechanical Engineering at Bridgend College.
Why did you choose an apprenticeship?
I tried studying physics at university for a year but found that it wasn’t the right route for me. After speaking to my family about what to do, my brother who had completed an apprenticeship, suggested I try something similar. It allowed me to get into the career I was looking for, while also receiving training and a wage.
I’ve been able learn new skills and gain a lot of knowledge, but the biggest benefit I’ve had is how much I’ve grown as a person. Before starting my apprenticeship I lacked confidence and found working and speaking with others quite difficult, but 3 years later and I hardly recognise myself.
What are your key roles in Sony UK TEC?
I am primarily based on-site, with one day release to college. In my role, I am responsible for the running and maintenance of the majority of the 3D printers on-site, which also involves the management of CAD and 3D printing requests. A request for a part will be made and it is my job to decide how it should be manufactured. If that involves CAD or 3D printing, I will then create the CAD file if required, and print it.
I also act as a support mechanical engineer, supporting the design and creation of new, and the modifcation of old, equipment and machines. This involves creating CAD models of the new design or modification, ordering or manufacturing the components required, assembly and testing, and finally introducing the equipment into production.
How do you feel about your duties day to day?
My role is usually quite fast-paced, especially when approaching the end of a project. Each project presents new problems and challenges to overcome, so with each project, I'm learning new skills or improving upon old ones. We also work with new and emerging technology, making the creation of new machines very challenging and exciting.
Have there been any opportunities or new experiences beyond your role?
Before starting at Sony I had very little experience with CAD software, and no experience with 3D printing. I am now the most knowledgeable member of my team on 3D printing, and one of the most knowledgeable on-site. To acquire funding for the purchase of new equipment, I've also presented in front of the board of directors, allowing me to improve my presentation and communication skills, as well as improving my confidence. I have also received training in other engineering roles such as electrical wiring and Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) programming.
Have you learned any new skills since starting at Sony UK TEC?
As well as the additional knowledge regarding 3D printing and CAD, I've had exposure to a variety of new skills. These include: Solidworks and Solidworks Composer; Cura; GrabCAD Print; Electrical Wiring; Soldering; and a great deal more.
Are you involved in anything beyond your role?
I have been off-site for software training in Bromsgrove, visited a 3D printing company in Derby, attended the presentation of new technology at The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry, attended multiple awards ceremonies sponsored by Sony, and had afternoon tea for women in engineering in the House of Lords in London.
I've also gained a close group of friends that I can rely on both inside and outside of work.
How do you feel about working at Sony UK TEC?
I feel that the role our team plays in Sony is an incredibly important one, which gives me motivation to keep improving myself as an engineer, even though at times it can be a little stressful. I would like to become a mechanical engineer who is capable of designing and implementing new machines and equipment, while also specialising in additive manufacturing.