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Apprentice Case Study: Cameron Tappin

Cameron has always been interested in engineering and physics, and set his sights on entering the aerospace sector through an OAS apprenticeship after he experienced more practical learning opportunities at sixth form. We talked to him about the skills and knowledge he’s gained so far, why you should never be afraid to ask for help, and what it is that he loves about working for a space-focused employer.

Why did you choose an apprenticeship?

I chose an apprenticeship so that I can simultaneously gain the practical skills as well as the theoretical knowledge that I’ll need to work in my chosen industry. Doing an apprenticeship allows me to learn the underpinning principles whilst also learning how to apply these skills in specific tasks, so that I’m learning how to use the principles in a practical way.

The opportunity to earn at the same time as learning was also a big factor in my decision – being a paid apprentice means I can train whilst also saving money for my future.

Did you have a particular career in mind when you made your decision? If so, what, and why?

I’ve always wanted to work in a physics and engineering setting. During my time in sixth form, I had more opportunities to pursue more practical skills and subjects, and as a result I narrowed this down to engineering and then aerospace engineering. Knowing this made it very easy to decide which apprenticeships to apply for.

Did you have an idea of what an apprenticeship would involve before you came to OAS?

I had a general understanding of what an apprenticeship was and the way apprentices learn and qualify but I wasn’t aware of the more specific details of the programmes. However, these were quickly explained so that I could make an informed decision about which pathway and programme was right for me.

What have you learnt at OAS?

I have learnt a lot at OAS! Most importantly, I’ve learnt about all the health and safety regulations employers and employees need to follow, which then enabled me to safely learn how to machine parts using mills and lathes, and how to properly disassemble/reassemble multi-component construction. I have also gained in-depth skills and knowledge in electronics and how to use these principles in real life situations to make a circuit behave correctly.

What sort of projects have you been/are you working on?

At the moment, I am working on a project on engineering models for some of our clients with my two fellow apprentices at Oxford Space Systems. More generally, I have also recently been assembling test rigs and storage rigs for inspection tasks.

How has the apprenticeship programme been beneficial to you and your career?

From a professional standpoint, my apprenticeship has allowed me to learn a variety of skills, most of which I use on a daily basis in my role with my employer. It has also taught me how the engineering world works with regards to regulations and engineering processes.

On a more personal level, I have been able to gain more financial independence and save for the future, and I have also made new friends through my learning journey.

What advice would you offer to those looking to apply to the OAS apprenticeship programme?

I would recommend starting with an open mind, and taking in as much information as you can. If you are struggling, either in theory or practical work, then just ask for help – the trainers have a wealth of knowledge and can help in pretty much every situation to support you to succeed.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I love working in a space-focused company, and knowing that everything I do is helping to push us forward with space exploration and Earth observation. It’s really exciting.

What are your future career plans?

I hope to carry on working with Oxford Space Systems after my apprenticeship, and I’d like to learn even more about the design and manufacture of space products. Looking further into the future, I’d like to continue my education and pursue a master’s degree in either physics or engineering so that I can get involved in future propulsion research and development.

Would you recommend apprenticeships to others?

I would 100% recommend an apprenticeship to others! It’s incredibly rewarding to learn theory and practice at the same time, especially because the OAS trainers really know what they’re talking about and are incredibly supportive. Having financial independence and the ability to save helps you to form your future. Finally, the experience you gain during an apprenticeship makes you more valuable and more employable, whilst allowing you to explore and discover where you want to take your career.