Tom Eagles, Culham Centre for Fusion Energy

Tom is currently studying an Extended Diploma in Engineering and A-level Maths. When he leaves UTC Oxfordshire, he will be training further as an Electrical Engineering Apprentice at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy.

What was the process you had to go through to get considered for the apprenticeship?

“The initial process with a lot of apprenticeships is to complete an online application and this was no different for Culham. This includes basic information such as a CV, detailing your grades. After my details were assessed, I was invited for an interview. They asked me to bring something in that I had created. I brought in a small guitar pedal that I had made as part of my EPQ; this gave me something to focus my interview on while they were getting to know me. I was then given a booklet with questions to test my maths and general mechanics knowledge before being presented with six materials in small blocks. I was asked to identify the material just from the look and feel of it and what they could be used for.”

When does the apprenticeship start and how long does it last?

“It starts in early September and is a four-year apprenticeship.”

Do you know what kinds of things you’ll be learning?

“At Culham, the focus will be the electrical side of engineering. In the first year I will be completing general training, which is on site in a brand new facility, Oxford Advanced Skills Centre. After this year I will be out on placements around the site carrying out different tasks related to my role.”

What made you decide this was what you wanted to pursue?

“My brother is already an apprentice at Rutherford, so he has already gone through the process of an apprenticeship. This means that I have seen all the positives of an apprenticeship that I think a lot of people overlook. For me personally, I don’t think I would be suited to a full time degree at university as I prefer a ‘hands-on’ approach which is what an apprenticeship will allow me to do. You’re able to gain the practical experience while also achieve a degree alongside it; so you get the best of both worlds really.”

What are your plans for after you have finished your apprenticeship?

“There is the opportunity to go on to study a degree with the company, or start a job with them. My plan is to be offered a job with Culham. The exact role will depend on which departments I thrive most in during my time as an apprentice.”

When did you join UTC Oxfordshire and what made you decide to join?

“I joined in 2015 and I thought there were more positives to the UTC than my secondary school. I felt the teaching quality here would be of a higher standard and more focused on engineering, which is what I wanted to pursue. They have brand new facilities here and I’m one of the few people who get to use all of the machinery. I also get the opportunity to program the machines too.”

Are you glad you decided to join the UTC and do you feel it has helped you prepare for your future?

“Yes, I’m very glad. If I’d carried on at my previous sixth form I would have had no knowledge about electrical engineering, as you only get to do a small amount of study based on engineering when you are at secondary school. Any of the interviews I would have gone to for an apprenticeship, when they asked me questions on electrics, I would have had no idea what to do. Studying at the UTC has inspired my interest in electrical engineering. As Culham is one of the partners to the UTC, it helped my CV look far more attractive when I applied for the apprenticeship.”