A student who seized the chance to take up a placement on a nationally significant renewable energy scheme says the experience has given him a taste for engineering.
Dean Whitelock, 18, from Ingleby Barwick near Stockton on Tees, is currently studying at Middlesbrough College with a view to a career as a quantity surveyor, which requires an industry placement totalling 340 hours.
After spending time on site with Jones Bros Civil Engineering UK, the company preparing the site for the construction of the onshore infrastructure for the Sofia and Dogger Bank C offshore wind projects, Dean says he’s now open to more options.
The North Wales-headquartered firm gave Dean the opportunity to work alongside experienced staff and see how the knowledge picked up in the classroom becomes reality.
The Teesside-based placement began at the end of August and ran for four months.
Dean said: “I did so much. I was out most of the day with the site engineers, operating GPS equipment and setting out works for plant operators according to plans.
“The Sofia and Dogger Bank C enabling works, which includes creating the platform for the converter stations, is complex, so being there two days each week has really helped with my understanding.
“When something is mentioned in classes, I can visualise why it’s important. In a lot of cases, I’ll have already seen it in the flesh too.
“Site engineering wasn’t an area I was interested in beforehand; when I first started I only wanted to do quantity surveying, but this has opened up my eyes to the possibilities.”
Jones Bros engineer Gareth Edwards has been tasked with mentoring Dean and has been impressed with the progress and enthusiasm he has shown.
Gareth said: “He gravitated towards the on-the-ground activity, like using the GPS equipment, rather than the office side.
“He’s clearly enjoyed his time here, particularly when it’s been busy. We’ve tried to temper it with a few filing and photocopying jobs so we can be confident he’s got a balanced perspective on the job, but he’s always risen to it.
“We also made sure to instil the importance of health, safety and the environment while on site, which Dean took on board well.
“This is a 20-hectare site with lots going on such as plenty of existing utilities and services like water or electricity to dodge, a lot of soil mechanics and ground pressure testing as well as importing thousands of tonnes of stone, so he’s done well.”
Katharine Hawking, head of work experience and T Level industry placements at Middlesbrough College, said: “We’re delighted Dean enjoyed his industry placement with Jones Bros – a fantastic opportunity to put into practice the skills he’s developing in the classroom here at the college.
“Middlesbrough College is the first college in the Tees Valley to deliver T Levels, pioneering new qualifications which include an industry placement of at least 45 days, allowing students to get essential hands-on experience in their chosen industry.
“Through his placement, Dean has had the opportunity to really integrate himself into the business, working on a very high-profile project for the area, from start to finish – an invaluable experience I’m sure as he moves forward in his career.”
Sofia is owned by RWE while Dogger Bank C is the third phase in the Dogger Bank Wind Farm, which is a joint venture between SSE Renewables, Equinor and Eni.
Established in the 1950s, Jones Bros’ leadership team consists of members of the second and third generations of the founding family. It employs more than 500 people.
The company is currently working on contracts in various sectors including highways, flood and marine defence, waste management and renewable energy around the UK.
The company runs an award-winning apprenticeship scheme, which has produced more than 40 per cent of its current workforce, with many of its senior managers having started out as apprentices or in a trainee role. It has recruited more than 100 apprentices during the past three years.
For more information, visit www.jones-bros.com