Working alongside Leading Scientists and Engineers

In July 2021, Patrick graduated from the Materials Science Technologist Degree Apprenticeship with Rolls-Royce. He explains what the Materials Science Technologist Apprenticeship entails and how it has helped his career.

Finding the right path after Sixth Form

Patrick wasn’t sure if he wanted to take the traditional University route. Looking at all the different options available to him, Patrick decided that an apprenticeship seemed like a better option for his personal career development. He explains:

“At sixth form, it was assumed that everyone would complete their A-Levels and then go to university. Personally, not much was said about apprenticeship opportunities or other career pathways. I knew that I liked Chemistry and Maths, so I submitted my UCAS application for both Chemistry and Pharmacy degrees. Whilst I received four offers, I wasn’t sure if university was the right pathway for me.

Instead, I decided to look down the apprenticeship route. I searched for opportunities online, went to apprenticeship fairs and that’s where I realised, I didn’t want to go and study for five years. I wanted to get into a job role and experience it first-hand.

After searching, I stumbled across the Materials Scientist Technologist Degree Apprenticeship with Rolls-Royce, which fitted perfectly with what I was interested in. I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t miss!”

Patrick looking through a microscope
Patrick on a computer

Developing as a Material Scientist

Alongside working at Rolls-Royce, Patrick studied with the University of Derby to gain a BEng (Hons) in Materials Engineering Technology.

“The degree is the foundation to the career. It provides you with the background and knowledge of a range of areas such as materials, maths, ethics and environment, innovation and much more.”

Rather than working on one niche area, Patrick has been introduced to multiple areas within Rolls-Royce, helping him to expand his skillset as a Material Engineer.

“As part of the apprenticeship, we got the flexibility of working across Rolls Royce’s businesses, from Civil Aerospace and Defence to Submarines and Controls. From this, we were assigned four-month placements in areas such as design, research and development, manufacturing, and after-market.”

Working alongside industry leading Scientists and Engineers

Alongside his degree, Patrick has had the opportunity to work with industry leading scientists and engineers, allowing him to learn and expand his skills.

“I have been able to work alongside world leading scientists and engineers as part of my projects. I was able to ask them direct questions about any problems I had on my projects which was super helpful. A lot of the study we do at university compliments the day-to-day tasks that we do at Rolls-Royce. Building a network of individuals from across the business to learn from has been invaluable. If we had a problem on our assignment, we could always go to specialists to expand our learning.”

New experiences

Patrick wanted an experience different to the typical university route, which has led him to trying things he never thought were possible as an apprentice. 

Whilst on a placement in Submarines, I managed to travel down to HMNB Devonport and go on a submarine. You get so many opportunities to do things that other students wouldn’t do. It’s incredible.

Patrick Challen
Materials Engineer at Rolls-Royce

Life after graduation

After graduating in 2021, Patrick has stayed working with Rolls-Royce as a Civil Aerospace Materials Engineer.

“Although I have graduated from my apprenticeship, I am still learning new stuff every day. I am now part of a team who are responsible for providing technical oversight of Rolls-Royce’s raw material and forging external supply chain. I am responsible for assessing raw material to ensure that it is suitable for use and validating new manufacturing routes to ensure that Rolls-Royce is supplied with conforming forgings.

Within my role, I’ve been given responsibility to uphold the values in my organisations and making sure the technical requirements and parts are conforming which has been fantastic. The apprenticeship gave me the opportunity to developing my skills, attitude, and inquisitive mindset.

In my opinion, the best thing about the apprenticeship is that it gives you loads of different applications to understand and consider, rather than focusing on one niche subject. It’s not just the fundamentals, the apprenticeship builds you into a well-rounded engineer that has set me up with the skills and attitude that has allowed me to do my job well.”

A picture of a Rolls Royce Engine

Materials Science Technologist Degree Apprenticeship

The Materials Science Technologist Degree Apprenticeship is a broad-based degree apprenticeship, which has been designed to produce materials technologists who can operate across a range of engineering sectors.

Find out more about this degree apprenticeshipFind out more about this degree apprenticeship