Andrew Beel at work.

WorldSkills - Squad UK: on track for international finals S�o Paolo 2015

Earlier this year we introduced you to Andrew Beel, who'd been selected as one of the mechanical engineering design competitors at the WorldSkills Squad UK selection tournament. Here we find out how he fared and what’s coming up next in the competition.

While we didn’t exactly ignite Brazilian football pitches this year – in the field of talented apprentices Britain is looking set to cause some serious heat at the WorldSkills championships in São Paolo in August 2015. The largest international skills competition in the world will see around 1,000 young people from all over the world compete for medals in more than 40 different skills including mechanical engineering design.

WorldSkills 2015 UK squad selection

In June UK squad selection competitions were held at four venues throughout the UK where 98 talented young people aged 18-25 made the grade. Including Andrew Beel, draughtsman at Dundee-based Pacson Valves, who competed against two other challengers in mechanical engineering CAD during an intense three-day competition at CAFRE in Northern Ireland.

“The competition operated on a very high level covering three out of four WorldSkills modules,” explains Matt Bell, training manager for the UK mechanical engineering design team who also runs all the national competitions via AutoDesk, software providers and sponsors.

“On day one, the competitors created a fully functioning Stirling engine which they had to assemble using their engineering knowledge,” Bell says. The Stirling engine is a heat engine used in very specialised applications where quiet operation is key - like in submarines or auxiliary power generators for yachts.

“Day two focused on sheet metal and steel work fabrication design, and day three on a design challenge for a mechanical stairway system, as well as high-end visualisations such as a rendered walk-through.”

The challenge

According to Bell, the test pieces used in these heats were taken from previous international competitions, and proved as much of a challenge as anything forthcoming in São Paolo.

“The most difficult thing at this stage was balancing the need for incredible speed whilst keeping a strong attention to detail,” says Bell. “This can prove difficult for any competitor and, as the UK training manager, it enabled me to really gauge the level that our team was at in comparison to previous UK competitors.”

While the bar was set very high Andrew Beel managed to beat off his fellow competitors and is now the sole member of Squad UK for mechanical engineering CAD.

“Andrew did exceptionally well and is working at a level that I have not seen at this stage of preparation during my previous eight years in this role,” beams Bell. “He has all the attributes needed to be hugely successful in the competition in Brazil - but now is where the real hard work begins!”

A bespoke training plan

Beel has just started a nine-month bespoke training plan preparing him for the final team selection in April 2015. As part of his training he will represent the UK at Euroskills 2014 in Lille, France, in October, the Skills Show in Birmingham in November and will attend events in China and the US - including December’s Autodesk University in Las Vegas, which offers a training and networking classes for design and engineering professionals.

In addition to the extensive training programme Beel will also continue in his role as draughtsman for Pacson Valves. The company has given him its full support to participate in the WorldSkills competition – which is key to Beel reaching his full potential.

Also lending his support to WorldSkills is Minister for Skills and Enterprise Matthew Hancock who recently said of the selection competition, “The young people who have earned a place on Squad UK are ambassadors for our country and demonstrate how high quality apprenticeships can lead to successful careers. I congratulate each and every member of Squad UK.”

Meanwhile Andrew Beel is under no illusions about representing talented UK apprentices on the global stage:

“Making it into Squad UK has given me a great sense of achievement as it shows that all the hard work and effort I have put in has paid off. The next few months are going to be tough, but I've known that since entering. Between now and April, I want to perfect my skills in order to gain a place to compete in Brazil.”

We wish Beel the best of luck and will catch up with his progress in Spring 2015.

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