Culann O’Neill was highly commended in our Apprentice of the Year Awards 2016
Culan is currently undertaking an Intermediate Engineering Apprenticeship at Innova Design and Build.
Culann’s main role is the setting and operating of 3 axis CNC machines and the 3D CAD/CAM programming of 5 axis automation machines.
Culann chose the apprenticeship route because it seemed a lot more productive to him than taking A levels. He also wanted to have some money in his pocket as well as having a trade.
During his Apprenticeship he has learnt how to see jobs through from start to finish, following all aspects of the engineering process. This involves deciding the appropriate size material for the job to allow purchasing to source the material, developing the operation plan for the job to determine what machine will be used and the relevant tooling and workholding devices that will be needed, programming the job using CAD/CAM integrated software and finally setting the job, proving and running it.
Culann has also learnt to quality inspect work both on completion of and during the process to achieve precise tolerances.
A highlight in his Apprenticeship was when a company asked for a complex shaped job with a tight flatness tolerance to be done. Culann decided the operational plan and machined it to within the specified tolerances. What made the job special was that the company had come to Innova because other companies had got it wrong. Culann got it right and the company wrote to say how pleased they were with the job.
In addition to developing a wide range of engineering skills that have seen him work on parts for the Lotus F1 team and aerospace and defence components he has learnt the importance of team work and improved his own work ethic, even going in over the weekends to ensure that pallet loading mills are re-loaded to keep them running at maximum efficiency and production.
Hugh Watson from Innova said: “Since joining Innova Culann has developed quickly from doing basic setting and operating of our 3 Axis CNC machines to 3D CAD/CAM programing of 5 axis automation machines including in process probing to achieve high tolerances.
“There are a number of key jobs which Culann has been given full responsibility for which include designing, programing and manufacturing complex and inventive fixturing using our 3D CAD/CAM system and he has shown himself to be happy to take responsibility for this, intelligently solve problems as they have come along and learn, not only from mistakes, but from all of the experience he is gaining to be able to feed that experience into the next job to help improve the machining process.
“When new technologies such as 5 axis automation have been introduced to the company he has shown himself to be able to understand and implement the technology with ease and had the confidence and vision to be able to use the new opportunities to improve his own work.
“His confident demeanour in the workshop has allowed him to integrate well with the more experienced around him and he has shown a crucial ability to understand when it is appropriate to banter and when it is important to concentrate.
“Culann gets frustrated when something goes wrong but uses this not only to develop his own skills but shares his learning with others so they do not make the same mistake. This willingness to support others will set him in good stead to achieve his personal goal of supporting his own apprentices and being in a chief engineer role.”
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