Founded in Education
A glance at the UK qualification comparison chart, (available from the EAL website) tells you that the number and range of qualifications has proliferated in recent years. At the same time the qualifications that are specific to the castings sector have become harder to find. Anyone having worked with apprentices in recent years will know that finding a relevant college based qualification at level 2 or above is difficult. Colleges will generally offer courses that will have more general engineering content, needing of course to ensure that they can attract enough students to make a course viable. This naturally means that it is unlikely that subjects like casting technology will be offered.
As older workers leave, through retirement, and their casting knowledge and skills risk being lost, the need to replace these workers and educate their replacements remains. Much of this can be done in-house, using experienced workers to mentor and train new staff, and of course much is learned by experience, but there are nonetheless important underpinning aspects of casting technology, metallurgy and materials science that need to be learned before an individual can really appreciate the complexity of casting and become future casting and methods engineers.
ICME with its members and ET Assessment Ltd, and with support from CMF, EAL Ltd, and the wider industry, have now developed an EAL Level 3 Diploma in Casting Technology that can provide much of this underpinning knowledge in a structured way.
The qualification structure
The qualification consists of two core modules specifically developed for the qualification, casting processes – consumable mould (to include sand casting, investment casting and lost foam) and castings processes – permanent mould (including gravity, low pressure and high pressure die casting) plus two that are imposed by the awarding body (EAL), engineering and environmental health and safety and organisational efficiency and improvement. Then there are six additional modules from which four must be selected: design for casting, patternmaking, sand moulding and coremaking, processing and casting molten metal, post casting operations and metallurgical testing and defects. Ideally there should be suitable options for anyone in the industry to choose while the core modules provide the wider base of knowledge about casting processes and the basics of working in engineering.
The diploma will be delivered through a series of taught lectures and on-line, web-based support and support from the industry will also be required to provide some of the technical and practical aspects of the course. ICME is now becoming an EAL Centre in order to be able to deliver the qualification.
The qualification will be suitable for anyone at looking to improve their knowledge and understanding of casting technology and casting metallurgy. It is technician level qualification so ideal for anyone looking to progress from the shop floor to a technician role, or, along with supervisory management training, which is not included, would enable someone to progress to a supervisory role in the industry.
Progression to Professional Technician and beyond
Being a level three qualification it also would facilitate someone becoming a Professional Technician, with the letters Eng Tech after their name (in addition to any letters obtained through membership of the professional body, such as ICME). It would also provide entry to many higher level qualifications such as the Foundation Degree in Casting Technology (subject to a sufficient level of maths knowledge, and this latter can be achieved with assistance from Bradford College).
How to find out more
ICME is holding an Open Day on the 21st June in West Bromwich where all of the options for training and education for the casting industry are being showcased including the diploma and the foundation degree, information on registration as a professional technician or engineer, apprenticeships and grants.
Attendance at the open day is free to all and will be suitable for anyone with an interest in training and development for themselves or for their employees or for a casting industry HR/training professional.
To register your interest in the open day and for further information please contact Dianne Willis at ICME, tel: 0121 601 6979, e: Dianne@icme.org.uk
Diploma in Casting Technology
Core Modules (all are studied)
1 Casting processes – consumable mould (to include sand casting, investment casting and lost foam),
2 Castings processes – permanent mould (including gravity, low pressure and high pressure die casting)
3 Engineering and environmental health and safety
4 Organisational efficiency and improvement
Optional Modules, (choose four)
5 Design for casting
7 Sand moulding and coremaking
8 Processing and casting molten metal
9 Post casting operations
10 Metallurgical testing and defects
The author would like to thank the Tor Lodge and Applecross Trust and South Staffs Training Trust for their support with the development of this qualification.