Craig McIntosh is currently undertaking a Graduate Apprenticeship at Star Refrigeration. Two years after he joined Star as an Assistant Site Engineer for the contracts department, Craig was offered the opportunity to continue his further education and obtain a degree. He is now in the second year of a BEng in Mechanical Engineering at Glasgow Caledonian University and attends university one day a week on a day release basis.
I left school and completed a National Certificate in Civil Engineering at Stow College. I then decided to switch to Mechanical Engineering, completing a Higher National Diploma in this field. Whilst studying for my HND I was given the opportunity to undertake an additional maths module, Maths for Engineering 3. Upon passing this module, I was recommended by my lecturers to attend University full time to continue my studies. I enrolled on a Mechanical and Off-shore Engineering course at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, however struggled with my studies and being away from Glasgow, hence leaving after my 3rd year.
What is your current job title?
My current job title is Project Trainee.
What attracted you to the refrigeration industry and to Star in particular?
Originally I never considered working in the ACR industry. This seemed strange to my peers and fellow students considering my dad owns a nationwide commercial refrigeration company for which I had worked part-time whilst completing my HND and after returning home from Aberdeen. I mainly worked on the tools, specifically copper pipe installations for supermarkets all over the country.
It was in my second spell working that the idea of applying to Star was suggested to me. On doing some research into the company, the varied range of work they carried out and their core values appealed to me and opened my eyes to a different, more technical side of the industry. It was then that I decided to apply for a traineeship.
Describe your apprenticeship/training progress with Star?
On joining Star, I worked as a Site Engineer for the contracts department for 2 years, working on a wide range of new industrial installations up and down the country. This was very beneficial in helping me learn and understand how Star’s bespoke systems worked and allowed me to get exposure to the hands on side of the business. During this time, I undertook a number of site based courses, including my Site Supervisor Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS) and an NVQ Level 3 in Construction Site Supervision. This allowed me to obtain my gold supervisor skill card.
After working on site for 2 years, the opportunity of undertaking a graduate apprenticeship was suggested. This was something I was keen to do in order to continue my further education and obtain a degree. I started a BEng Mechanical Engineering: Design and Manufacture at Glasgow Caledonian University in September and I am currently in my second year. I attend university one day a week with 6 other apprentices all working in various industries. When not at university I am based at Star’s head office in Glasgow where I will be undertaking a number of 6 month secondments in various departments. I have experienced the day to day activities carried out by the sales and design departments.
What is your long term career goal?
My main goal is to obtain my degree and become a Chartered Engineer. Workwise, I aim to gain as much knowledge about the industry and Star as a business as possible.
What do you enjoy most about your job, and what are the biggest challenges you face?
Currently I am enjoying learning about the Design process behind Star’s systems and the technical challenges the engineers face. Being able to apply what I am learning at university in the workplace is also very satisfying.
Being given the responsibility to size pipe lines and components for a live installation is the biggest challenge I have faced due to the level of accuracy required when carrying out the calculations. This is a challenging process, however very enjoyable.
What are your greatest achievements?
Being given the opportunity to return to university.
How long have you been working for Star? What do you like about working for the company?
I have been working at Star for over 2 years and feel I am a valued member of the team. The most enjoyable thing about working at Star is that there is always someone happy to spend time with you and help you, whether that be with a work problem or university coursework.
What excites/interests you about the industry?
I am fascinated by the refrigeration systems ability to generate ‘free heat’ and also very keen to work on a district heating heat pump system.
What do you know now about the industry which you wished you had known before?
I wish I had known more about how diverse the range of work can be and the many different sectors refrigeration systems are installed in. I feel knowing this would have allowed me to focus on the ACR industry as a career path much sooner.
What advice would you give to young people who are just starting a similar career path to yours?
Work hard, soak up as much knowledge as you can and never be afraid to ask questions.
Craig McIntosh - Graduate Apprenticeship