Silver success in WorldSkills UK engineering competition

23 November 2015
Image representing Silver success in WorldSkills UK engineering competition

Gloucestershire College is thrilled to announce that its talented Electronic Engineering student, Steve Benfield, took home the silver medal in the national finals of the 2015 WorldSkills UK competition, which forms part of the UK’s largest skills and careers event that showcases professional and technical training across a range of industries.

28-year-old Steve, a former Bournside pupil who lives in Churchdown, is in his final year studying for the BTEC Level 4 HNC in Electronic Engineering and spent three days competing in the prestigious competition held at The NEC Birmingham.

Day one saw him demonstrate his hardware design skills by modifying a design he had previously prepared using the Altium Designer suite to a new specification, re-routing the tracks and producing the finished board. He also demonstrated quality soldering and neat assembly skills, as per IPC specifications, on two printed circuit boards (PCBs); one with through-hole technology and the other with surface mount.

C programming, fault finding and testing were the focus of the second day, which included a short written test, code modification for a Waveform Sampler and board fault finding, fixing and re-calibrating exercises.

The final morning then tested competitors’ speed at assembling a fairly complex PCB, which they then had to calibrate and test – all within two short hours.

Steve first entered the WorldSkills UK competition in 2014 to test himself and see where he stood against other engineers at his level. His knowledge and skill won him the 2014 Industrial Electronics bronze medal, and because he enjoyed it so much he decided to enter again this year to see how much he had improved.

Steve said: “I’m ecstatic! Going into the competition I felt that my design had let me down, and was worried this would hold me back, but the amount of preparation and practise I had done really pulled me through. It was a fantastic experience to be called up to the stage as a silver medallist.”

A former Associate Electromechanical Technician for Halliburton Manufacturing in Tewkesbury, Steve’s passion for electronic engineering was sparked by childhood toy and engineers’ favourite, Lego Technics.

He said: “I loved putting all the wires and motors together when I was younger, and as I got older I realised that electronic engineering is fantastic because you are only limited by your imagination. If you can think it up, you most probably can make it!

“Engineering is such a large discipline and I really want to be rounded in my understanding of it. I think my dream is to have lots of small dream careers in each company I have the privilege of working with and learning from.

“I would recommend studying electronic engineering at Gloucestershire College because the staff are very knowledgeable and concerned with improving all of the students’ skills. The facilities and equipment have improved drastically since I’ve been here, so I imagine it will keep getting better over time!”

The College was recently awarded a £800k grant by GFirst LEP, and invested £800k of its own funds, to create three first-class STEM centres at its Cheltenham, Gloucester and Forest of Dean campuses that will benefit thousands of students, which included extensive upgrades to its mechanical and electronics labs and teaching facilities.

For more information about engineering at Gloucestershire College visit www.gloscol.ac.uk/engineering or call Student Services on 0345 155 2020.

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