BEEAs – Young Design Engineer of the Year
We took a trip down to London to the BEEAs (British Engineering Excellence Awards) last week. Like a parent watching their child walk up on stage at a school prize giving, a warm glow came over me as Michael Aldridge picked up his gong! It was a great success for Michael and just reward for all of us here at 4c Design that have invested hundreds of hours in Michael’s training and development over the years. It was proof to me that if you invest time in your people they will go on to achieve great things for themselves and their company.
Michael was the first graduate to come through our 3 month internship that we set up in 2009.
We wanted to use 4c’s innovation culture as a platform for talented, young design engineers to stretch their wings and show the world what they are capable of. The formal part of the internship focuses on the 4 attributes that we look for in a consultant design engineer:-
- Professional skills
- Design skills
- CAD skills
- Workshop skills
Michael thrived during his internship in the 4c Design environment, he would regularly work long hours, by his own choosing, keen to learn and keen to impress absorbing the training and the experience. Here is a small example of an internal training project Michael took on and succeeded in less than a week.
At the end of the 3 months Michael had made himself invaluable, he was offered full time employment with 4c and we haven’t looked back since.
At 4c, the range of services we offer clients is very diverse and hence we need people with a fundamental understanding of all things mechanical, technical and with an instinct for aesthetics.
From the outset Michael shown an aptitude to this diverse role; on his first day as an intern he was thrown into the deep end with a brainstorming session to develop a new life raft leisure case. He was able to contribute clear, concise and valuable suggestions in the meeting. Later followed up with detailed research, concepts, client meetings, detailed design, CAD and finally manufacture. Michael became integral to all these stages in what turned into a hugely successful project; increased function, improved aesthetics, reduced weight and lower manufacturing costs. This in turn led to repeat business from the client.
Moredun Bottling Machine; this project required the design of a machine to bottle a vaccine solution under sterile conditions. Due to the abstract nature of the bottles, this required custom mechanisms and processes to cope with the batch sizes required. Michael developed a highly innovated, yet simple mechanism for placing the aluminium caps onto the vaccine bottles. Costing only a few hundred pounds it has saved the client tens of thousands as the only solution other engineers (some twice Michaels age) could think of was a pick and place robot.
These projects are a few amongst many that Michael has contributed towards: Egger (logging solution), Equalizer (Smart tools for the oil industry), Tannoy (all industrial design is done by 4c), AWS Ocean Energy (Wave Power), Thales (defence contractors) and Tree of Knowledge (as featured on Dragons Den, innovative range of tools to promote personal development).
Whilst having a well-deserved pint at the airport coming back north I asked Mike how it felt to win, he said ‘he was shocked to be singled out, the projects he has worked on have always been a team effort’ he went on ‘Good design needs talented people (and clients) all pulling in the same direction and I’ve been lucky enough to find that at 4c’.
Enjoy the spotlight Michael. You’ve worked hard and you’ve worked smart.
You deserve it!