On Tuesday 6th June a group of Hampshire based physics teachers joined Physics Partners on a tour of Harwin.
Harwin is world-leading specialist in reliable and high-performance interconnectors, based in Farlington, Portsmouth. The factory was first built on the site in 1963 and their impressive facilities have expanded and modernised over time. They now use advanced manufacturing and automation to develop innovative connector technologies, some of which are used by NASA and Formula 1. We were all amazed to see the scale of the operation and to learn that they design and manufacture 6,500 products in house, even designing and building the bespoke machinery required to make the tiny interconnectors. It was great to hear about the innovation involved and to see the robotics in action, many of which are working 24/7.
The 260 employees have a broad skill set, and include product designers, machine designers, electrical and mechanical engineers and even chemists. To support the development of new talent and nurture future employees, Harwin have their own apprenticeship academy. 10 students per intake (age 16+) complete a 15 month level 2 qualification in Mechanical Engineering, whilst also learning about the processes involved at Harwin. It is hoped that the apprentices will go on to a long term career within Harwin and, if they wish, they are able to be funded through further education, even up to degree level.
The teachers who attended the tour returned to the classrooms eager to share their learnings with students and embed some of the applications of physics into lessons, as well as linking it to careers information. There are also exciting plans in discussion to encourage students to consider an apprenticeship at Harwin, e.g. through hearing about it directly from existing apprentices.
Physics Partners are immensely grateful to Damon de Laszlo, Chairman of Harwin, for his ongoing support, and to Gayle Taylor, Head of HR, for facilitating and hosting such an enjoyable and fascinating visit. Thank you also to Laura Watford from STEMunity for putting together the video.