The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

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It was during this year’s unprecedented national lockdown that STFC Advanced Engineering Apprentices stepped up and helped a national effort to produce 20 years’ worth of mechanical ventilators in just 12 weeks to equip the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic. Jack Day, Christopher Robinson and Christopher Young joined the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), as advanced engineering apprentices in September 2016.

During the summer of 2020, STFC was part of a consortium of significant UK industrial, technology and engineering businesses from across the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors to produce medical ventilators for the UK named the “Ventilator Challenge UK”. The project was a massive success having produced 13,437 ESO2 Ventilators in total, equivalent to 20 years of production in just 12 weeks. There were over 7500 people involved within the project and at its peak; they were making more ventilators in a day than were previously made in 10 months – 400~ a day. 

Jack Day, Christopher Robinson and Christopher Young volunteered for the project after an organisational call for volunteers. The advanced skills of the three were quickly recognised and they were moved to work within the Rework, Repairing and Resolving Faults section. They then had the pleasure of testing the first ESO2 Ventilator (ESO2-00001), along with the first and last consortium made machine. 

Overall Jack Day, Christopher Robinson and Christopher Young spent thirteen weeks volunteering throughout the entire duration of the project, working day shifts that were 07:00-14:30, working four days on and then four days off. This volunteering effort demonstrates their altruism as they were also preparing for and sitting their End Point Assessment (EPA) and completing their HNC in engineering at the same time. Completing and successfully passing EPA first time and achieving a HNC in engineering is no mean feat, let alone whilst simultaneously helping to produce 13,437 ESO2 Ventilators for the NHS during a global pandemic! 

This experience has certainly been a major development opportunity in these apprentices careers and here at STFC we look forward to seeing how they will utilise the technical and non-technical skills they developed during the project as they transition into permanent technician roles across the organisation.


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