Maxwell Harrison, a student on the ECITB and Skills for Energy sponsored Energy Skills Foundation Programme at Lowestoft College, is celebrating after receiving a SkyWatcher Mercury telescope from pipefitting and fabrication company Pruce Newman. Maxwell won the prize by taking first place in a virtual reality welding competition which Pruce Newman ran on their stand at SNS2016 in March. During the two days of the conference and exhibition, visitors competed to produce the best fillet weld possible, using the innovative Fronius VR training equipment generously loaned by University Technical College Norwich, which mimics what Pruce Newman’s skilled welders see through their welding masks.

Pruce Newman Operations Director, Tim Moorse, who presented Maxwell with his prize, said: “Our stand was busy throughout SNS2016 with people who wanted to discover more about the pipework and steel fabrication services we can offer the oil & gas energy sector, and who wanted to experience for themselves what it’s like to weld – something we do every day, but which many people who work in the sector have never had the chance to do before.

It’s encouraging that the competition was won by an engineering student from a local college, because it shows that educational providers are equipping the next generation of employees with the skills that industry needs. We recruit and develop apprentices every year, and we find that those who have completed the ESFP course, like Maxwell, do very well in their careers with Pruce Newman.”

Maxwell, who is considering pursuing a craft apprenticeship himself, was delighted with his prize, saying: “It’s wonderful, and very much appreciated. Welding is one of the parts of the course I enjoy the most, and I hope to work in this field when I’ve completed my training.”