Apprentices: engineering the inventions of tomorrow

Kati Whitehead and Allister Boughton reckon they have dream jobs – helping to create the inventions of tomorrow.  Kati, 24, is an Apprentice Design Engineer. Allister, 20, is an Apprentice Engineer.

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“I love the teamwork and the projects we work on..."

Kati says: “I love the teamwork and the projects we work on – like RealSim™, a glove that gives you the sensation of touch. Very useful in virtual reality gaming! Imagine being able to come across an animal in a role-play game and feel the texture of its fur, the shape of its body, even the movement of its breathing and purring.”

Allister’s favourite project is Observant, a 360-degree video camera that will be mounted on police, emergency, military and security vehicles to shoot incredible panoramic footage.

Both work at inventions company Morgan Innovation & Technology in Petersfield, Hampshire, where boss Nigel Clarke is thrilled to have them.

“Five years ago nearly all our staff were over 40, but recruiting apprentices and graduates has brought an influx of young blood,” he says. “They take nothing for granted and are not afraid to question why something is done a certain way. They have brought new ideas and are extremely hardworking. They’re amazing!”

Kati spends one day a week at London South Bank University on her Electrical and Electronic Engineering degree, and four days in the office. Morgan IAT is paying her tuition fees and in return she has agreed to stay at the company for three years after she graduates. A star student, she has already come top of her year.

Allister has a day release for an HNC in Electronic Engineering at a local college and is doing a Level 3 NVQ in his own time. The rest of the working week he is on site at Morgan. “I’m excited to be on the HNC course and I’m paid above the minimum apprentice wage for my age,” he says.

The apprentices are trained in soldering, assembly, circuit-board manufacture, product testing, design and development. Kati has also represented the company at trade shows.

Allister loves the experience he’s gaining and the knowledge he gets from his colleagues. It's a friendly workplace – among the 37 staff there are five families, either husband and wife or parent and child.

Morgan is very proud of its apprenticeship programme and has won a Made in South East Award for the best manufacturing apprenticeship. The company is all about inventions that make people’s lives better – RealSim™ is also going to be used to train 999 crews and doctors. In simulations they’ll be able to “feel” almost any object, surface or substance and sense whether it’s hot or cold, smooth or rough, wet or dry.

So it’s no surprise that in five or ten years, Kati sees herself as a chartered electronics engineer, “designing and creating products that improve people’s lives.”

Do she and Allister recommend apprenticeships? Yes! “It’s a good alternative to university, a great way to gain experience and a fast track into industry,” says Allister. “You earn as you learn and you learn from a wide variety of people with a wide array of skills,” Kati adds.