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Employer case study: Nylacast

Professor Malcolm Fox works at Leicester-based engineering specialist Nylacast, and is also an Honorary Visiting Professor in our Faculty of Engineering & Informatics.

Nylacast is a world-leading innovator in the design, development and supply of precision engineered solutions. With 50 years of engineering excellence, the company focuses on material science, product design, research and development for its global clients.

Nylacast has partnered with the University of Bradford since 2004, when Malcolm joined the company and championed young talent by inviting work placements from students on Bradford’s renowned engineering courses.

Here, he talks about the University’s industrial placement scheme and the value it has brought to Nylacast.

“Bradford’s placement students bring a fresh approach to the company”

"We hire them, time and time again, because they bring a fresh approach and enthusiasm to Nylacast. We all need stirring up sometimes, and the students bring a new perspective and energy to our organisation.

"They’re keen to learn from us, and we also learn from them.

"We’ve employed a total of seven students from Bradford over the past 15 years, and the talent has just got better and better."

An engineering student working in a lab

“Placement students work as research associates at Nylacast”

"We give them a lot of responsibility, physically testing Nylacast’s products, pulling, twisting and measuring them for our clients. They carry out prescribed work, as well as a research project that’s part of the year’s contract.

"They then tend to continue their research interest back at university in their final year, so we benefit from their paper’s findings and conclusions. Their final year projects on Nylacast give them a sense of purpose and a competitive advantage, and as a Professor at the University, I help see them through to completion."

“We’ve employed three undergraduate students over the past few years”

"We have so much positive feedback! We employed three students – Aqib Khan from the Mechanical Engineering course in 2017-18, who’s since achieved a first-class honours degree, and two brothers from Chemical Engineering. Jaime Chauchan worked with us in 2018-2019, before his younger brother Aaran joined us in 2019-20.

"Each of them have shown real talent, expertise and professionalism and proved an asset to Nylacast and their university.

"They were introduced as new members of staff and immediately fitted in. They had to interact with everyone in the organisation, at all levels, which taught them a lot. They developed interpersonal skills, learnt how to be organised, and got straight into their research projects which had been agreed with their visiting members of staff. They spend at least a third of their time on their research project."

“We’ve been so fortunate with our placement students from Bradford”

"Once we’ve shown the students how to do things and tested them for quality assurance, there has been no real distinction between them and the team they work in.

"I work one day a week as a Professor at the University of Bradford, supervising three to four students with their research projects. I see the talent that comes through the engineering courses, and we always pick the best for our placements at Nylacast.

"We advertise our roles, and the motivated students apply, so the standard is always high. One student, Aqib, visited us on summer work experience, testing out an ultrasonic product we needed testing. He worked so well we offered him the year’s placement.

"Jaime applied within an hour of our ad going up and asked if he could come and have a look around. He was so keen, personable and able, we offered him the job after shortlisting three great students. All of them were good, but Jaime was outstanding, and he continued to be outstanding throughout the year.

"His brother was one year behind on the same course, and it was obvious he would join us. We had them both with us for a while, and both were extremely talented."

An image of Malcolm Fox, R&D Officer at Nylacast, at work

Malcolm Fox, R&D Officer at Nylacast

"The students’ research projects add value to our business"

"One student looked at the compressive creep of nylon samples. When you compress nylon, it tends to relax more and while it’s a very small effect, it needs to be measured. Nylon is becoming an increasingly technical material, used in lots of applications and our clients want to know its different technical properties.

"The student’s research project allowed us a technical edge in dealing with customers, and provided our sales team with solid technical knowledge."

“If you are considering a placement student from Bradford…”

"Your business has a golden opportunity to gain a talented, enthusiastic member of staff, who will fit into your standard operations and do it very well if they’re given the right mentoring and management. When it’s done right, they will be able to develop a part of your business you wish you could develop but haven’t had the time.

"Listen to their fresh ideas and allow them to come in and keep the spirit of the base from settling too much. It’s a win-win situation for the employer and the student."