THREE students, who were the trailblazers on an innovative partnership initiative between INEOS, Heriot-Watt University and Forth Valley College, have graduated.
The ground-breaking, five-year, company-sponsored training programme Engineers of the Future – which began in 2008 – was the first of its kind in Scotland. It was specifically designed with industry in mind and to fulfill the needs of the chemical, oil and gas sector for ‘work ready’ university graduates.
INEOS-sponsored Engineers of the Future, Jennifer Prentice (21) from Grangemouth, Duncan Paterson (22) from Tranent and Mark Skilton (22) from Tillicoultry, all collected their Masters Degree scrolls at a ceremony held at Heriot-Watt University last Wednesday (19 June).
Combining practical skills, work experience and academic study to Masters Degree Level, the award winning model has been designed to encompass more businesses and students who recognise the value of this unique training programme.
The initial programme saw the development of a bespoke training route that would deliver ‘work ready’ graduates. INEOS sponsored students initially attended Forth Valley College for academic training, before progressing on to Heriot-Watt University to complete their studies.
Hands-on practical experience to support academic study was gained throughout the five years in the workplace. Working alongside experienced employees the students became familiar with site processes and manufacturing plants. All the students and partners in the initiative are delighted at the success of this partnership working.
Jennifer Prentice who is set to take up an operations role with INEOS, said: “I am so happy to have graduated. It is such a relief to have finished my degree and to have a little time off before starting my career with INEOS. Graduation day at Heriot-Watt was a really nice day and I enjoyed seeing everyone from my course. The lecturers were all very happy that we had done so well.”
Duncan Paterson who will be working as an INEOS graduate chemical engineer, said: “I am very proud to have graduated after all the hard work that has been put in by myself and INEOS. There are certainly benefits for all partners involved in this initiative and it certainly works well from a students’ point of view. Graduation was a great celebration after five years of hard work.”
Mark Skilton, who will be employed as a graduate mechanical engineer with Asset Care at INEOS, said: “I am really pleased I have achieved my Masters Degree after five years of hard work. I would definitely recommend the Engineers of the Future initiative to other students, but my advice would be to make sure it is something they definitely want to do. They will get as much out of it as they put in. Graduation at Heriot-Watt University was a great day and during my time at university I’ve made friends for life.”
Gordon Grant, director INEOS Grangemouth, said: “The Engineers of the Future programme was introduced to produce work ready graduates on day one. The quality of the three graduates completing the course this year shows clearly that this has been fully achieved. This first cohort of graduates from the course has set the bar very high and we are delighted to welcome them into full-time employment with INEOS at Grangemouth.”
Linda McKay, principal for Forth Valley College said: “Congratulations go to Jennifer. Mark and Duncan who graduated recently at Heriot-Watt University, everyone at Forth Valley College are very proud of their academic achievements.
“We are also extremely proud of the Engineers of the Future training model and its integrated approach to learning. It responds to the needs of our partners in the business community and also the education sector as a whole. We believe this is the way forward for skills development in Scotland and beyond.”
Steve Chapman, principal and vice-chancellor of Heriot-Watt University, said: “Our warmest congratulations go to the first three Engineers of the Future who have graduated in chemical and mechanical engineering. Duncan, Jennifer and Mark are outstanding examples of graduates who are ready for the workplace.
“This programme is an excellent example of co-operation and collaboration between HE, FE and industry. In this case, the partners have worked together to ensure that skills, development, academic learning and workplace experience have contributed to the academic and professional development of young people.”