Twenty-year-old Hannah Frost is a graduate of UTC Sheffield and now works as an apprentice technician at global engineering company Arup. Hannah started at Arup in August 2017, straight after leaving the UTC, and is now progressing towards a degree apprenticeship. We met Hannah in Arup’s smart Sheffield office overlooking the city.
What is your job at Arup?
I’m currently doing an apprenticeship in Building Services Engineering working as a Building Information Modelling (BIM) Technician as part of the training to become an engineer. Building Information Modelling has developed from CAD which is Computer Aided Design. BIM allows us to incorporate more in-depth information in the drawings we produce for installations.
What attracted you to a career in engineering?
From when I was young, I was fixing cars with my dad and I was also in the cadets, so I was already involved in doing practical things. There are so many options within engineering for what you can do. I’ve always been interested in buildings and design work.
Why did you study engineering at the UTC rather than stay at school in Rotherham?
I started at the UTC when I was 16. I knew I wanted to do engineering and my school didn’t offer it. Normal post-16 seemed a bit limiting doing just A Levels, I wanted something hands-on as well. At the UTC I was able to do a technical qualification alongside my A Levels in Physics and Maths.
Why do you think girls miss out on engineering?
Sometimes it’s narrowed down at school. At my school, I wasn’t put into an electronics class because I was the only girl wanting to do it. I was asking, “Why, I want to do this?”. Eventually I was put in a class.
Do you think people understand what engineering is?
Yes, I think there is a misunderstanding. I’ve heard it a few times where people say, “Oh, you’ll be wearing overalls all day and working on machinery”, and I say, “No, that’s not what I do. I sit at a computer all day in an office, I don’t have a van or do anything like that.”
How did you find the UTC?
It was very good. I really enjoyed it. You had days where you did your engineering classes and applied what you’d learnt in Physics and Maths. It was a good split up to the week, so you could focus on your A Levels one day and then your vocational stuff the next day. It was relaxed, we were encouraged to take responsibility for ourselves, but at the same time there was always help on hand.
Were there any stand-out experiences?
I went to the national WorldSkills competition to compete against students and employees from all over the UK. I had to learn another skillset in mechatronics. I did quite well and got a silver medal.
Did you work with employers when you were at the UTC?
Yes, employers set us assignments, so for example PES Performance gave us a CAD assignment where we had to create a submersible drone model and document how we made it and developed it. I also worked with Siemens and Festo for the WorldSkills competition.
Did the UTC give you what you were expecting?
Yes, I got really good grades in all my subjects. I had to work hard because I found the A Levels quite challenging – I was best at the engineering technical qualification. The UTC helped to get me where I wanted to be. It was always destinations focused, right from the beginning.
What’s next for you at Arup?
Arup has a scheme for apprentices and it’s changed this year. At the moment, I go up to Leeds College of Building one day a week for a Level 3 Building Services course alongside a NVQ course. Once I’ve got my Level 3 qualifications, I’ll be starting a degree apprenticeship at Leeds Beckett University in September. After that I have to start thinking about what kind of engineer I want to be – mechanical or electrical. I’m still not sure.
What do you do in an average day?
Recently I have been managing a specific project for a month. I take information from engineers and translate that into the design drawings for the project. Those drawings are used to present costings to the client.
Do you use any skills you learnt at the UTC?
A lot of the skills I use here came from the UTC. For example, we use the Autodesk Revit software for modelling. I hadn’t used it at the UTC but I had used some very similar software – SolidWorks – to make 3D models, so my experience married in well and I was able to pick up the Revit software really quickly.
How do you feel about your job?
I love it. It’s very relaxed here, it’s a very comfortable environment to work in. I’m glad I’ve chosen to do an apprenticeship. I’ve learnt so much this year already and I’m earning at the same time. It’s given me an opportunity to move out of home and to get my own place. I don’t think many my age can afford to do that.