Extended Industrial Placement - Tufcot Engineering Ltd
Megan Wakeling - MEng Materials Science and Engineering
For the past few months, MEng Materials Science and Engineering student Megan Wakeling has been undertaking an extended work placement with Sheffield-based composite manufacturer Tufcot Engineering Ltd, working as a Technical Intern.
Megan joined Tufcot in May as she completed the third year of her degree, and will finish in September in time to embark on her fourth and final year.
For some time, Tufcot has been interested in developing a grade of material that can operate to a higher temperature than any of the materials in the current range.
As part of Megan’s placement, she was required to work on a real-life engineering project, so developing a new, higher temperature grade of Tufcot seemed like the perfect fit.
The polyester resins and fabrics used in Tufcot’s current material range can operate to around 120°C. The company's aim is to produce a material that can be used at temperatures much higher than this.
Megan began her placement by investigating potential new resins and fabrics, with good thermal properties, that could be incorporated into the Tufcot process.
The next stage was to order sample material and eight weeks into Megan’s placement with Tufcot, the first prototype material was made!
Megan has been getting a full taste of industrial life, working on multiple projects to help Tufcot with their product development. These have included:
- Developing a grade of Tufcot that is electrically conductive
- Creating material with a high friction co-efficient (opposed to the low friction co-efficient usually required for bearings)
- Creating material with high thermal conductivity (for use in applications where friction may lead to heat generation)
As well as considering new resins and fabrics, the company have also been investigating different additives and fillers, showing that even small additions of different fillers can dramatically change the properties of the Tufcot material.
"It's been really interesting to see the research and development process in action", comments Megan. "It's great to be part of a team, and see how the trials we run can have an impact on the end product. Being able to spend five months at Tufcot has given me a genuine impression of what it's like to work in industry, and brilliant experience that will help me move on in my career when I finish my degree."
Bob Birchley, Technical Manager at Tufcot said: "Megan has been a great person to have on the team. She is enthusiastic and keen to learn, and has made a valuable contribution to the development of our new materials. It's great to have this connection with the University, as we have access to excellent students, academics and testing facilities!"
As part of the course structure, MEng students in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering undertake a five-month industrial placement or extended research project. The industrial placement is designed to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding within an employment context as well as build relationships with contacts for future career opportunities.
We aim to match the students' interests within materials science, with one of our industrial partners to provide an engaging and rewarding experience.
Megan made such an impression while at Tufcot that she was featured in the September/October issue of unLTD magazine.