FOUR years of 70-hour weeks ended in first-class degree celebration for fitter Richard Hinds, head of the maintenance department for Shufflebottom of Cross Hands.

Richard, who lives at Llannon, has achieved a Bachelor of Engineering degree in mechanical and manufacturing engineering with first class honours.

“I studied at the University of Wales Trinity St David part-time for four years while working full-time for Shufflebottom,” said Richard, who started at the steel-frame buildings firm over 11 years ago as an apprentice. “Every Friday I went to the university for lectures but most of my studying was undertaken at home after work and at weekends.

“I would spend on average 35 hours a week studying on top of my 30 to 36 hours a week working at Shufflebottom. I also took advantage of attending seminars provided by specialist industries and studying further courses, for example from the Chartered Management Institute on neuro-linguistic programming, and a course on a problem-solving method called TRIZ.

Richard Hinds

Shufflebottom supported Richard’s studies by reducing his working week to four days, and giving time off for completing assignments and for exams. “I’m also grateful to the company and the individuals who helped me gain a first by providing support, information and guidance during the final-year dissertation,” he said. “When I started I didn’t think I could reach a first, so I’m proud of achieving it.”

Richard’s degree is directly relevant to his responsibilities at Shufflebottom, which involve managing the maintenance department, providing technical engineering support, and ensuring that equipment adheres to technical specifications and standards, all the time following organisational policies and procedures to ensure quality control, and mentoring a new apprentice.

Completing an apprenticeship himself before starting his degree course was beneficial, Richard said, because it “embedded the foundation of engineering knowledge needed to set me off on the right foot”. Now he is applying his theoretical knowledge directly to practical operations day-to-day.

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