A group of seven young people aged between 14 and 16 have spent a week with leading automation experts FANUC UK, gaining valuable hands-on robotics experience as they learnt what it takes to become an automation engineer. As part of FANUC’s campaign to break down barriers to careers in engineering and build a future manufacturing talent pipeline, the company invited a select group of teenagers into its UK headquarters at Ansty Park, Coventry for five days in August for its first ever Work Experience Week.

Combining hands-on robot programming training with an introduction to project management, the group was given access to FANUC’s portfolio of industrial robotic and automation solutions.

Hailing from a variety of nearby schools and colleges, the seven teenagers enjoyed a practical insight into the world of automation at the renowned FANUC Academy. Combining hands-on robot programming training with an introduction to project management, the group was also given access to FANUC’s portfolio of industrial robotic and automation solutions, as well as learning about the varied sectors and applications in which they are used – from aerospace and automotive to food & beverage and plastics.

In a bid to understand just what it takes to forge a successful career in robotics, the students also took part in a Q&A session with FANUC staff including Hara Konstantelia, a 23-year-old Technical Sales Support Engineer who herself joined the industry through an apprenticeship programme and helped to run the week-long course.

Hara Konstantelia, a 23-year-old Technical Sales Support Engineer at FANUC was quizzed by the students and helped run the week-long course.

“I’ve enjoyed seeing the level of passion these young people have shown towards automation, and their excitement to learn new things,” Hara comments. “Having been down this route myself, supporting our work experience students on their own journey and expanding their perception of engineering has been a great experience.”

Attracting Gen Z into a career in engineering is a key aim for FANUC UK. Its Training Academy has recently achieved independent validation, allowing the company to offer accredited courses that can feed into mainstream education. FANUC’s Work Experience programme is showcasing the opportunities available within automation and manufacturing to a cohort that may never have experienced robotics first-hand before.

“We understand the importance of giving young people the opportunity to have real-world, hands-on experience with industrial robots,” says Tony Bentham, Head of Customer Service at FANUC UK “FANUC’s Work Experience Week aims to ignite a spark in young people by showing just what it takes to forge a career in robotics, as well as giving them access to people who are successfully doing their dream job.”

For the majority of the participants, this was the first time they had used a robot and the experience was not one to be forgotten. “It’s been a really exciting experience and I’ve enjoyed it so much,” says Nathaniel Sharpe, 16. “I learnt a lot about the different types of robots produced by FANUC – from collaborative ones that you can work alongside, to some that can pick up items with a vacuum or grippers, to ones that can carry huge loads up to 2-3 tonnes. This was my first time using a robot and I thought it would be a lot harder than it actually was – programming it was surprisingly straightforward! The week I spent at FANUC really opened my eyes to the world of robotics and engineering – I’d recommend the work experience programme to anyone.”

First time robot user 16-year-old Nathaniel Sharpe programmed a robot which he found to be surprisingly straightforward.

The success of its first ever Work Experience Week and the positive feedback from the participants has prompted FANUC to consider running similar events in the future, as Hara concludes: “Activities like this are so important as the skills required for engineering today are not always accurately represented in the media, especially on platforms aimed at younger people. I hope the students left the week inspired and with a clearer idea of what opportunities are available to them.”

Education is a key theme at the 2023 FANUC UK Open House event, taking place 14-16 November at FANUC UK’s Coventry HQ. To reserve your free place, go to https://ukopenhouse.fanuc.eu/