Combining a bachelor study with a fulltime job as production engineer

Published on by Component Manufacturing. The reading time is approximately 7 minutes.

Mike Jansen is a Production Engineer at NTS where he started in an internship as a work planner about seven years ago. In recent years, he combined his full-time job with a part-time study in technical business administration at a university of applied sciences. This appeared to be a though combination but one that has certainly paid off. “With a bachelor degree and seven years of work experience, I have lots of professional options. It's great for my future.”

“In 2013 I went to NTS for an internship during the third year of my study at an institute for secondary vocational education in the field of mechanical engineering,” says Mike. “I liked it so much that I also chose NTS for my graduation internship. During that period, I was offered a job as work planner. I found the offer really appealing but I also wanted to proceed studying. I then agreed with NTS that I would combine my work at the company with a part-time higher professional education in technical business administration.”

From work planner to production engineer

“Since I started at NTS, I gradually got promoted from work planner to production engineer. My primary responsibility here is to translate the question that we get from our customer so that the people who have to do the work can do the job successfully. A drawing does not say everything, you have to translate it into what it means for production.”

Parts and one-offs

“At NTS Combimetaal we mainly manufacture parts and proto products, so-called one-offs. When it comes to more substantial and complex projects, I look at how we can interpret a drawing and translate it for the people on the work floor together with David Jack, team lead of the stainless-steel team. Someone devised the drawing, but we need to look at whether it can actually be made in that way.”

Mapping feasibility, time, process and costs

“I also map other aspects such as: how long does it take to make an object? Can it be less complex and what costs are involved? What we make is very diverse. It varies from corner brackets, flat plates and large frames to complete machines. Mapping the manufacturability, the production process and the size therefore also varies considerably.”

Example of a great project

“An example of a great project that we have recently completed in a fairly short period of about eight weeks is a proto-machine for a candy manufacturer. The machine is intended to quickly make wine gums so that new flavours can be developed. It consists of four stations and four frames with sheet metal. The winegum undergoes processing in each of the frames."

Understanding what you make is essential

“To be able to make such a machine, it is necessary to understand exactly how it must work. That is why I visited the customer in order to go through the drawing together in order to understand what the machine needs to be capable of at a detailed level. Besides that, we have worked together with our proto building department within the Development & Engineering division a lot. They took care of the milling, turning and final assembly of the machine and we were responsible for the frames and doors. That is a good example of how collaboration within NTS is put in practice.”

Keeping a balance between ongoing activities and new products is challenging

“I usually prepare these kinds of new products and parts in the afternoon, then I have time for further development. During the day I am mainly busy with trouble shooting. Production employees come to me with all kinds of questions about ongoing activities and then I join them at the workplace to take a look and think with them. After everyone has gone home, I get to tackle my to-do list. The great variety in my work makes it challenging and sometimes a bit difficult to structure.”

Making optimal use of experience of production employees

“When I just started working here I was sometimes told that I was in the workplace too often. To me, however, being on the work floor is really valuable. I think it is important that we achieve results together and that it is a joint project. Moreover, I learn a lot from the welders. They are true professionals who have years of experience with whom I have a good click. My mission is to make maximum use of their experience and knowledge.”

Steep learning curve

“When I first started at NTS, the general initial feeling was: ‘we have to teach this boy the profession.’ I got a lot of feedback and I also actively asked questions myself. I collected information and did something with that feedback. That has resulted in the fact that I have learned a lot in a short time. Despite being young, I have been in sheet metal since I was seventeen. A quite considerable period. Then age does not say that much.”

Continuous contact with work floor

“To make sure that activities on the work floor go well, I often grab a quick lunch with David. During such a lunch I gain insight into what went well and what went wrong and what incidents took place. I learn from that. David: “On his turn, Mike also gives me insight in future improvements. That pays off. We are a well-oiled team and we look for solutions together.”

Shorter lines of communications because of relocation to campus

“I also work closely together with other parts of NTS,” Mike continues. “Before Combimetaal moved to the NTS Campus I already had to be in Eindhoven for appointments twice a week. This cost me an hour driving per time in a workday that was already busy. As the department is now physically located here, communication lines are a lot shorter. It also has become a lot easier to quickly show someone something. During a design review I simply visit the work floor. Then they can experience in practice that translating a drawing in a slightly different way improves the manufacturability.”

Physical vicinity leads to joint initiatives

“The physical vicinity leads to collaboration. An example of this collaboration are the activities that we are developing for talent attraction, such as a tech event for attracting students who want to combine working and studying: called BBL in Dutch. We organise this event together with the NTS divisions Precision and Mechatronics. It is a nice collective initiative in which I am going to have an active role. I am relatively young myself and I want to encourage young people.”

Combining job and study though but fruitful

“In my first two years at NTS I worked 36 hours a week. Combining a full-time job with a study sometimes is really though. When it comes to my private life sometimes it maybe would have been more comfortable when I had finished my study before starting a job. I have certainly made some concessions but that has really paid off. I therefore absolutely do not regret my choices. At times that it was though, I had a number of satisfied customers and satisfied colleagues and then that gave me an enormous boost.”

I have a lot of options

“Soon I will have a bachelor’s degree and seven years of work experience on my resume. That is awesome for my future professional career. I have a lot of options now. Project management for instance is something that I would like to do in the future. Guiding the development of a proto-product from the beginning till the end, is something I could really go for.“

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