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Lucy Watkins

Lucy Watkins

Applied Engineering Programme

Apprentice Engineer at Lear Corporation

Why did you decide to do a Degree Apprenticeship?

I decided to do a degree as part of my apprenticeship to develop my knowledge in engineering as well as improving my future career prospects. The Applied Engineering Programme effectively fulfils these needs with a structure that covers a variety of modules which can then be applied at the workplace. Having a balance between gaining industrial experience as well as earning qualifications from a reputable University is more advantageous than having only one.

Briefly describe your role and the types of projects/work you have been involved in

As an apprentice, I have had the opportunity to experience different areas of the company which has ultimately given me insight into several projects each at different stages of development. More recently, I have been in the comfort department where the aim is to give the occupant of the vehicle a pleasant driving experience by modifying the seats, which are supplied by Lear. Comfort is improved based on feedback from physical testing in the form of subjective comfort clinics as well as static and dynamic testing. Modifications to the seat are then discussed based on the feedback and decisions are made according to the impacts to the overall project.

What have you enjoyed the most about your studies?

I have most enjoyed studying modules that are not directly linked to my role. It allows exposure to a wider range of engineering areas and ultimately this will help me to identify which parts of engineering I have more of an interest in. This will enable me to build my career by choosing modules for Years 3 and 4 based on the modules I preferred in previous years.

What is the most useful thing you have learnt?

Trying to balance working and studying was difficult to begin with, but over time I have learnt how to manage my time effectively. Being able to balance workload is something that I have been able to apply to my job. I am able to prioritise tasks which is a skill I have developed since being on the AEP degree programme.

What skills are you applying to your role?

The comfort department must make decisions to improve comfort of the seats. There must be consideration as to how each decision will impact the project and other departments in terms of comfort, timing and cost. The skills of decision making that are taught in the Design module is therefore I can implement what I learn to my role. In the comfort department, customer feedback is critical for the development of the seats. Customer feedback is a subject that is talked about in both Business and Design. Learning how to ask effective questions and how to act on the actions is something I have been able to apply to my role.

What are your ambitions for the future?

My ambition for the future is to inspire more women to get involved in engineering. I would like to do this after completing the AEP degree programme because by then I will feel I could offer more insight into what it’s like being a woman in engineering.

What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone thinking about doing AEP?

I would suggest for future AEP participants to speak to colleagues in the workplace for a better understanding of modules. The lectures and seminars will give the theoretical knowledge of modules but, when possible, colleagues who use this knowledge in their own day-to-day roles are able to share how it is put into practice within the company. This will help with assignments that are typically applied to the workplace. It also allows you to network with people within the workplace which is beneficial too.