An international manufacturing and engineering firm has been working on several innovative projects with students from Sheffield University to bring new ideas into their business.

Engineering students at the University of Sheffield were offered a career-changing opportunity by Tufcot last year to gain five months’ industrial experience in the “real-world of machines and composite materials.”

Excited at the chance for a new challenge after completing her third-year at University, Megan Wakeling began her journey as a technical intern at the beginning of May.

Megan Wakeling. Picture by Marc Barker

She said: “It’s been such an enjoyable and worthwhile experience getting to work for such an internationally renowned company. Tufcot have guided and supported me every step of the way over these past few months, and have always taken my ideas on board.

“I’m going back to University to study a Masters in Material Science and Engineering in September, and all the incredible things I’ve learnt is going is to give me a huge step forward when it comes to writing my dissertation, as well as my career in the future.”

Megan was based in Tufcot’s technical department, which has grown over the past four years from just one part-time employee to three full-time members of staff.

As part of the work placement, students must work on their own project. Megan was tasked with developing a special higher-grade of Tufcot which could resist temperatures higher than 120°C, and created her first prototype within just eight weeks.

“It’s been such an enjoyable and worthwhile experience getting to work for such an internationally renowned company. Tufcot have guided and supported me every step of the way over these past few months, and have always taken my ideas on board.”

Megan also helped to research and develop Tufcot which can conduct electricity, as well as material with a high friction co-efficient and high thermal conductivity.

Greg Majchrzak, the firm’s managing director, said: “It’s been invaluable having a fresh set of eyes in the company. Megan had never worked with Tufcot before she came to us, and this lead to her bringing forward ideas our team never would have thought of.

“The university is key because it not only allows us to utilise the skills and knowledge of students in the city, but also to use the state-of-the-art facilities the University has to offer.”

This isn’t the first time Tufcot have sought out the Universities’ young professionals. Last year, the Sheffield-based firm put two student groups to work on solving some of the companies long-standing efficiency problems.

After several months of research and development, both groups successfully created equipment designs as part of their studies, which are now waiting for approval prior to being implemented into the business.

Greg added: “Typically, a development proposal such as this can cost around £5,000 – £10,000. By getting students involved we get to keep our overheads down whilst they gain some essential skills as part of their education.

“We want to be at the forefront of new material development and new innovations, which is why we will be continuing to collaborate with the University.”

Tufcot is a composite bearing material used in a variety of different sectors. Thanks to its high strength to weight ratio, low co-efficient of friction, excellent bearing properties and no maintenance it is ideal in market sectors such as marine, railway, oil and gas, hydraulics and many more.

For more information on Tufcot, visit their website at www.tufcot.com

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