OIC Work Experience: Automotive Engineering

OIC student gives his account of his week at the BMW Mini plant in Oxford.

Here at OIC we strive to ensure our students leave us as not only academically gifted students, but students with real-life experience of the careers they hope to pursue. Our super-curricular team work hard with students to ensure they are able to get this experience with local organisations during the College holidays. This October a number of students headed off on such placements.

Here, an OIC student and aspiring automotive entrepreneur, gives his account of his time at Oxford’s BMW Mini plant:

The super curricular team have helped me in contacting BMW. Previously, I had tried to contact several other automotive companies. However, they either replied that they had no placements available or did not respond at all.

Therefore, my placement was quite a welcomed surprise for me. I love BMWs, and BMW is one of the top companies I hoped to work for. I was excited, and I couldn’t sleep the night before. Despite having worked on cars beforehand, I felt joyed to have the chance to see cars being mass-produced. I really wanted to learn details about working in the car industry. Not only do I want to work in the automotive industry, but I also want to start a company myself. So, I thought that this would be a very valuable experience for me.

It turns out, I was correct. During the first few days, my supervisor took me to see the assembly line to have a look at things which we didn’t get to see on the plant tour. It felt like witnessing the miracle of child birth, only a hundred times better. I also got to see the new electric Mini being worked on. After the first day of orientation, I started work at different departments at assembly, namely; trim rework, quality check, training and mechanical. Initially, I did trivial jobs, such as data input, tightening bolts and checking for gaps in door seals. However, after two days, the staff at Mini were impressed with my passion and confidence in my skills. They started to let me work on more difficult jobs that were enjoyable for me, such as; replacing the headliner, replacing the heads-up display, running vehicle diagnostics, replacing the brake calipers, bleeding out the vehicle fluids and aligning the wheels. I also went on a test drive and the rolling road. It is truly bizarre to see that the speedometer indicates that you are going at 100 miles an hour, whilst everything outside is stationary.

Besides from checking panel gaps, all the jobs were amazing for me. Not only have I gained knowledge in fixing cars, but I also got to see how dedicated people are when making a car. I also attended a few trainings on the first day of my arrival. This allowed me to see how carefully trained the employees must be to work with the cars. The only difficulty I encountered, was you must be very careful. For example; if you accidentally scratched one of the interior plastics when you are fixing on a screw, you will have to replace the entire piece of trim; or if you cut yourself and even as much as a droplet of blood is stained on the headliner, you will need to take apart all the trim to fit in a new headliner.

I enjoyed working at Mini so much, that I have asked Richard, who organizes apprenticeships and work experience at Mini, whether I could spend an extra day at Mini. I had to wake up at 5am, and reach the factory before the sun came up, but I love working with cars. By the end of the day, I felt sad as I departed the factory. Even the guys who I worked with for the past 5 days felt a bit sad. They now considered me a part of their team, even though they know that I am just a year 12 student.

Overall, this is one of the best experiences I will probably ever have. Not only did I get to work on cars, but I have also gained more insight on vehicle manufacturing, such as quality issues and costs. Some people are scared off after one work experience, but not me. I became more confident that I would like to work in the automotive industry when I graduate.

For more information about Mini production, click here

For more information on Mini Plant Oxford tours, click here

Wednesday 14th November 2018

Published by: Oxford International College

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