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Military museum ‘motorvates’ students

Student mechanics James Diston, Radek Gina, Scott Irving and Jack Fairley work on a military vehicle at NELSAM

Military vehicles from a bygone era have been revved into action by student mechanics from Sunderland College.

The group of Light Vehicle Maintenance students went under the bonnet of trucks dating back to World War Two as part of a work experience placement with a difference.

They were transported back in time to North East Land Sea and Air Museum (NELSAM) where they completed restorations works on a range of armed forces vehicles.

NELSAM has the region’s largest collection of 20th century military and civil transport with a large collection of aircraft, vehicles, trams and fire engines.

The Level 2 students, who are based at the college’s Hylton Campus, carried out services on a Willys MB Jeep, an Austin Tilly Truck, a Morris Commercial C8 Artillery Tractor and a Daimler Ferret Scout Car.

They also got the chance to strip and rebuild the engine of a World War Two era Bedford MWD Truck, under the guidance of their lecturers.

Student mechanic Radek Gina, aged 19, said: “It was a truly great experience to be able to work on vehicles that I would never see on the roads, and the hands-on experience we gained gave my colleagues and I a huge confidence boost. Reviving these military vehicles had its challenges but together with our lecturers and members of NELSAM we found solutions and gained new skills.”

The work experience placement was arranged in partnership with the college, NELSAM and Reed NCFE to give the student mechanics the opportunity to experience a real working environment in order to prepare them for their future careers.

Brian Dixon, of NELSAM, said: “We believe that hands-on experience like this is important during training so we were delighted to offer Sunderland college students this work placement as part of the museum’s educational programme.

“The enthusiasm shown by the students during their short time here was impressive and they were able to appreciate how vehicle design and engineering has developed so much in the past 100 years to give us the vehicles of today. We look forward to working with Sunderland College again in the future.”

John Davies, motor vehicle lecturer at Sunderland College, said: “This was a challenging task that our students seemed to relish and the level of enthusiasm displayed was encouraging to witness. The time they spent at NELSAM helped the students to develop their skills and gave them a chance to showcase the knowledge they have gained so far on their course.

“We are very proud of the high-quality learners we produce and we believe it is vital to ensure our students are given opportunities to demonstrate their abilities to businesses and employers. I hope that this is the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership with NELSAM, where we can work together to provide our students with excellent learning environments whilst also benefitting the local community.”

Sunderland College joined forces with REED NCFE last year to create a ‘Job Zone’ which offers careers guidance and helps students find suitable work experience placements.

Jake Baillie, employment broker at Reed NCFE, said: “Through the exclusive partnership with Sunderland College, our aim is to bridge the gap between the world of learning and the world of work. The students have been very receptive to us, seeking advice on CVs and help searching for jobs. One of our successes has been providing students with course-related work experience that helps them find out more about the industry they aspire to work in.

“The project with NELSAM has been fantastic, and has been very well received by our students. The opportunity for our students to showcase their abilities, and gain insight into the world of work, whilst also helping the museum has been great for everyone involved. I hope this is the start of a great relationship with NELSAM.”

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