Holly O’Dwyer is among a growing number of female students to study at Coleg Gwent’s state-of-the-art Dennison Advanced Materials Centre (DAMC), based at Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone, in Ebbw Vale.
Funded by the Welsh Government and opened by the Minister for Economy and North Wales Ken Skates in 2018, the centre is one of only a handful of further education sites in the UK that provides aeronautical and motorsport engineering training with advanced composites such as carbon fibre.
Tredegar resident Holly said it was the promise of hands on work with such materials which drew her to the DAMC.
“The facilities here are amazing, and this was the definitely the best option for me,” added the 16-year-old.
“From working in composite labs, to testing capability on a simulator and working on our own race car we are getting a real feel for what we could be doing in the future.
“I hope to use the skills I am learning here to secure an apprenticeship with a car manufacturer or with the RAF, and I think it will open up a lot of job opportunities for me.
Manufacturing companies are increasingly using composites instead of more traditional materials, with the £100,000 Welsh Government investment in the DAMC welcomed by the likes of Safran Seats UK Ltd and British Airways Maintenance Cardiff.
Economy Minister Ken Skates said:
“Composites are a key part of a relentless drive towards developing pioneering and disruptive technologies and are already having a significant impact on high value manufacturing across the UK.
“I am delighted to see that this fantastic centre is at the forefront of delivering the most up to date training available in this field, helping meet the demand of current and future industry and driving up local skills levels.
“This will provide students like Holly with high quality employment opportunities at some of Wales’ premier manufacturing companies.
Campus director at the Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone John Sexton said:
“It is immensely gratifying to note that we are now able to provide students like Holly with a 21st Century engineering experience that really sets them up for the future. Composites are without doubt the way forward in materials technology and for our students to have this knowledge as part of their training gives them a real advantage in the workplace.