Keppie and Babcock staff given online tuition from New College Lanarkshire during lockdown

Lecturers in Computer Aided Design (CAD) at New College Lanarkshire have continued to provide training to industry during lockdown having transitioned to online delivery for employees of Keppie Design and Babcock International Group.

New College Lanarkshire has a growing international reputation for its CAD courses and training. In February, the College won the ‘Best BIM [Building Information Modelling] Training Programme’ at the BIM Awards in Newcastle, while students representing New College Lanarkshire in the Mechanical Engineering: CAD division at World Skills competitions across the globe have brought home a clutch of medals.

New College Lanarkshire provides staff development programmes for a wide range of businesses and organisations through its commercial contracts.

CAADT (Computer Aided Architectural Design & Technology) lecturer Michael McGuire has delivered training for new recruits to internationally-renowned architectural practice Keppie Design.

The Glasgow-headquartered firm, which employs 120 architects, master planners, interior and urban designers, has a long history closely associated with the legacy of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Michael provided online Revit training to five architectural technologists recently appointed by Keppie.

The training, funded through the government’s Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF), had been scheduled to be delivered at the College’s Hamilton Campus.

Michael said: “We have delivered training to Keppie’s employees over the past few years, and these usually take the form of day release classes.

“There were some issues amongst the students with the software installation, so I filmed videos and recorded the lessons, which did involve a lot more work than would normally be involved in face-to-face learning.

“In addition to the Keppie training, I’ve also been hosting a series of online quizzes for students of Architectural Technology – and we’ve had interest from people in Australia who want to be involved.”

Meanwhile, CADD (Computer Aided Design & Draughting) lecturers Fraser Hainey and Lisa Nicholson have successfully transferred a course to remote learning which is normally taught at Babcock’s Rosyth site.

Babcock is a leading provider of critical, complex engineering services for the defence, emergency services and civil nuclear markets.

In early-2019, Babcock asked NCL to deliver training for participants in the company’s Trainee Designer Programme.

Following a series of competitive application processes, employees have been selected to work towards a PDA in Computer Aided Draughting and Design (CADD), with units taught being tailored to the company’s training needs.

Since training began in April 2019, more than 30 employees across three cohorts have undertaken the training programme.

The employees are drawn from a variety of backgrounds including fabricators, electrical fitters, mechanical fitters, supervisors and commissioning engineers.

Engineering & CADD lecturer Fraser Hainey said: “Both NCL and Babcock initiated working from home around the same time in March, with Babcock providing the Trainees with computers to work from home.

“Using a combination of Whatsapp, Zoom, Moodle and Screencast, which is screen recording from Autodesk, as well as other software, the course has continued very effectively.

“This is a condensed version of the HNC in CADD which is normally delivered at our Motherwell and Hamilton campuses.

“We also offer the trainees a chance to sit Autodesk User Exams in AutoCAD & Inventor software.

“After training from ourselves, and further on-the-job training by Babcock, their new job title will be Design Engineers in either electrical, mechanical or structural streams.”

Prior to lockdown, Fraser delivered training on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at Rosyth, with Lisa Nicholson travelling to the Fife site on Mondays.

In addition to their industry training, Fraser and Lisa teach students on a range of CAD and Engineering courses.

Fraser added: “Adapting to a new working and learning environment at home, especially for those with children, has been challenging.

“But we’ve overcome this by being flexible with our working hours and through use of technology, like regular Zoom meetings and chats on Whatsapp.

“I have found the challenge of adapting to working from home very rewarding – I’ve really enjoyed being a ‘guinea pig’ in running a course from home and how successful it has been.

“This gives me confidence that myself and the College can rise to a challenge like this again in the future.”

Barry Skea, head of faculty of engineering and automotive, added: “It is testament to the dedication and ingenuity of our lecturers that we have been able to transition to online delivery of industry training contracts so quickly under these exceptional circumstances.

“Our staff have an outstanding skillset, while their knowledge of Computer Aided Design is renowned in the education sector in Scotland.

“Being able to work in partnership with Babcock and Keppie brings benefits to all those involved, with the College helping to upskill their employees while allowing us to keep up-to-date with the latest trends and technological advances in industry.”

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