Apprentice Week: Meet Rubb’s Apprentice Design Engineer, Marc Istead

Looking for the best route for a career in design, manufacturing, and construction? Apprenticeships could hold the key. Our apprentice Marc Istead, age 21, talks about the journey to his Rubb apprenticeship, and how he feels about the placement so far.

Marc joined Rubb in September 2018 as an Apprentice Design Engineer. He follows in the footsteps of Liam Whyatt, Rubb’s first Technical Apprentice, who is now employed here as a fully qualified Design Draftsman.

After Marc left school, he pursued a BTEC Level 3 in Mechanical and Software Engineering at Gateshead College. Although he had always enjoyed using computer-aided design software (CAD), he didn’t realise it was a viable career until applying for college. After he graduated, Marc was referred to Tyne North Training, where he was put in contact with Rubb, who was searching for another apprentice draughtsman. The rest is history.

We sat down with Marc to find out what he thinks of the apprenticeship so far.

What’s the work and day-to-day experience like?

I’m tasked with different things every day, so no two days are the same. I could be producing a ‘Plans and Elevations’ drawing using AutoCAD and Google SketchUp, or making steelwork, foundation and PVC production drawings for a building we’ve been tasked to design.

What’s the best thing about the job?

I think being surrounded by helpful and nice people. I feel comfortable asking questions and I’m learning a lot from everyone here. Being able to have a laugh with everyone makes it a nice working environment for everyone.

What’s the most challenging aspect?

I suppose the most challenging thing is being halfway through my apprenticeship and having to learn a new skillset. It can be difficult being behind everyone’s knowledge and understanding.

What has been your career highlight to date?

Making models of the easyJet building and rendering them with SketchUp for images and VR was a great learning experience. Being able to show a product that hasn’t been built in a 3D format helps to give a better perspective to those who aren’t familiar with CAD software.

It gave me confidence after receiving praise from my peers on my work; it’s welcoming to feel part of a team.

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How would you describe life as a working design engineer?

I’ve enjoyed all my time and experiences in and outside of Rubb. Working as a design engineer can be challenging, but solving problems and not letting them drag you down can also be rewarding. I am happy to have been given the opportunity to work in an environment I enjoy.

Was working with Rubb what you expected, or did anything surprise you?

Rubb has a very specific field, so it was a lot different to my previous experience. Being thrown into a different type of draughtsman using AutoCad’s 2D instead of its 3D package was difficult at first, however with the help of people around me I am understanding the standard of drawings needed.

Is there any advice you’d like to pass on to those about to enter an engineering workplace?

I think anywhere in an engineering environment you’ll find someone or a group of people who have developed a set of skills and working philosophy unique to them. The more you learn and understand the quicker you develop in that role.

At its heart, engineering is problem solving. It can challenge you with a scenario that puts you completely out your comfort zone and make you develop a strategy on how to tackle the unknown. It gives the most rewarding experience of self-progression.

Universities and schools teach you what to do, but in an apprenticeship you teach yourself.

Never stop learning is what I’d give as advice.

What do you think you’ll do next?

After gaining my HNC I want to complete my HND and go on to become a fully qualified draughtsman here at Rubb.