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HND Engineering student Richard is flying high with distinctions

Richard Weston, HND Engineering Student

Engineer Richard Weston enrolled on an HND at Telford College after being impressed by the standard of teaching – and is on course to graduate with distinction.

After leaving Meole Brace School in Shrewsbury, he began an EC&I (Electrical Control & Instrumentation) apprenticeship at the iconic Ironbridge Power Station, which lasted four years.

“There’s a lot of training needed to work in the power industry,” said Richard. “It is an extraordinarily complex field. I was maintaining crucial power station infrastructure.

“The role was very demanding. There was huge responsibility involved with working in a hazardous environment to keep homes and businesses powered. There were steam pressures of up to 180 bar and temperatures well over 550°C.

“The generator turbine ran at 3000rpm, 1000 tonnes of mass with over a million horsepower. Not to mention the electrical systems with over 400,000 volts, it was a very stressful environment!

“It was a fantastic learning experience; it was probably one of the best apprenticeships you could get in terms of development and responsibility.”

Richard spent 10 years at Ironbridge Power Station in total, becoming a fully trained EC&I engineer. He left Ironbridge when the power plant was earmarked for closure; his previous work in the Air Training Corps inspired him to explore a different career path.

“My time in the Air Training Corps inspired me to look at roles within aviation,” he added.

“I was fascinated by aircraft. I joined the Fleet Air Arm in the Royal Navy to work on Merlin helicopters. I spent over a year maintaining the fleet of helicopters, before deciding that job wasn’t for me. Luckily, I saw an opening at Rugeley Power Station.

“I worked at Rugeley for about five years. Following my previous training, I always saw power generation as my ‘calling card’ specialty. It is the industry I know best!”

Richard currently works as a hardware engineer at leading integrated systems company Capula, who design systems for clients such as National Grid and EDF, with their portfolio including power generation, energy networks, nuclear and hyrdo power, and renewable energies.

Richard first approached Telford College as he looked to upskill and focus on his professional skills. “I wanted to develop my career and work towards a senior engineering role at my current work place. When I joined Capula midway through my HNC, they were very flexible and they allowed me to carry on with my course and then allowed me to follow it up with my HND.”

“Initially, I enrolled at Telford College to study HNC Engineering as it was a convenient commute from my home in Nantwich, but I was impressed with the standard of teaching here and I decided to study HND. My friend was also studying HNC at another college, but after hearing about my experiences here, he joined me on the HND programme.

“One unit I loved on the HND course is renewable energy, which really spoke to me. I have taken a keen interest in wave energy converters in what little spare time I have. My next unit is sustainability, and I am really excited to get stuck into that!

“George Heeks has been a brilliant tutor; he is the main reason I wanted to continue my studies here and we have fostered a very good working relationship. I am on course to pass with distinctions at the moment, despite having a full-time career whilst bringing up two girls. I think that shows how effective the course’s teaching is. Ed Young-Lidard has been fantastic too – he is a brilliant maths tutor.”

Richard is looking to continue his studies after Telford College, considering more hands-on degree courses in engineering. “I am really looking forward to looking to studying further. It will really help me progress my career prospects and I am looking for the right course for me.”

Outside of his studies and work, Richard loves spending time with his wife and two girls, aged three and six-months. “I have to thank my amazing wife, who has been incredibly supportive over the last couple of years while I pursue further education. I really could not have done it without her.”

He is also a huge Formula 1 fan. “It is a massively engineering dominated sport. I enjoy the technical developments more than the racing!

“It fascinates me to see the concepts the engineers come up with, different aero designs. The hybrid era is incredibly clever and watching teams develop so rapidly is inspiring. The pace that they evolve bleeding-edge technology is unparalleled.”

George Heeks, Richard’s tutor, and learner manager for aviation and engineering, said: “Richard is very committed to the course, and his work is of a very high standard. He is also someone who is happy to share his thoughts with the group and support other students as well as work collaboratively.

“At HND level the course encourages students to research information, question current ideas and develop their own viewpoints. They are to be the next generation of engineers to move ideas forward and I am sure that Richard will play his part in this.”

If you are inspired by Richard’s story, find out more about our higher engineering programmes or visit our next open event.