A FORMER trainee apprentice, who joined Airedale with only GCSEs under his belt, has gained a 1st Class Honours degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering through part-time study.
Electrical design engineer Matthew Thompson, who works five days a week at Airedale, this summer gained a first class degree at Leeds Metropolitan University, but the delighted student said he had not expected to do so well.
Back in 1995, Matthew studied in his spare time for two years for a BTEC ONC in Electronic Engineering, before studying for a BTEC HNC from 1997-99.
Matthew also completed his four year EMTA Modern Apprenticeship in 1999. From 1999-2001, Matthew studied for a HNC in Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning.
With the new qualifications he had gained, Matthew began studying for a Foundation degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Bradford University from 2005-06. During this study he was given day release from his work at Airedale.
From 2006-08, Matthew studied for a BA in Electronic and Electrical Engineering.
With Airedale's support in funding his courses and day reslease, Matthew collected eight qualifications along the way. Now part of Airedale's electrical product development team, Matthew is involved with the electrical design and development of chiller and other cooling systems.
Matthew said 'At school I was interested in electronics and constructing things and so engineering was the natural step to take. With Airedale's backing, I was able to study part-time for the courses which I would otherwise have had to do full time. Both shop floor and office-based staff including my team managers, director of engineering Bill Coates and senior controls engineer Duncan Hitchcox, have been instrumental in my learning curve'.
He added 'Initially I thought I would only do the basic training, but I kept going. It was a challenge to step up to each level. Looking ahead I plan to gain incorporated engineering status with the Institute of Engineering Technology.
The 29 year old was awarded Airedale's Extra Mile Gold award and given a £500 prize.
Airedale managing director Clive Parkman said 'To take on repeated challenges since he was 16, as he has done, requires immense resilience and enthusiasm.
Parkman added 'The opportunity is there for other apprentices who want to take on that challenge. As a leading air conditioning manufacturer, we are committed to attracting new blood into the company through a very comprehensive apprentice scheme which can lead to management development and then ultimately a supervisory role within our organisation.'