Students from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) recently had the opportunity to gain valuable insight into the advanced level of manufacturing at Ford’s Struandale Engine Plant in Port Elizabeth.
The team, comprising 20 fourth-year students who are completing the final leg of their Bachelor of Mechatronics degrees, were treated to an in-depth tour of the component machining and engine assembly lines for Ford’s Duratorq TDCi diesel engines.
They were able to view the high level of sophistication employed at this world-class facility, which produces engines and components for the global Ford Ranger programme and the North American Ford Transit.
Ford has a strong commitment to developing local school learners and university students for future careers in the automotive industry.
The far-reaching initiatives include hosting an annual Careers Day for Grade 11 learners from local schools, offering hands-on vacation training for selected university students, sponsoring an annual prize for the top Engineering student at NMMU and supporting the university’s Ford Engine Research Unit.
“It is crucial that we play our part in developing the engineers of the future, as there is a huge skills shortage in this field,” said Satya Banda, Plant Manager of the Struandale Engine Plant.
“By providing the platform for hands-on experience and insight for our learners and students, we’re empowering them with a more complete understanding of the automotive manufacturing industry and the opportunities it presents.”
According to Professor Igor Gorlach, Chair of the Department of Mechatronics at NMMU, the students thoroughly enjoyed the tour and found it very informative.
“These fourth year students are currently doing a course in advanced manufacturing systems where we teach them about machines, robots and automation. So it’s important that they can translate the theory we teach into in a fully functioning plant such as this with the latest technology.
“The working environment at Ford sets a very high standard. It is very clean and neat, and extremely well configured in terms of ergonomics, so it is an ideal facility to learn from.”
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