Pulse news magazine

Volume 29, June 2020

Pulling buses to push technology forward

Apprentices in Rochester, U.K. pull a double decker red bus for a good cause.

Rochester apprentices make a difference for a local hospital by pulling a double decker bus with ES technology on board

Each year, teams across the United Kingdom participate in the BAE Systems Apprentice Innovation Challenge, in which they are tasked to build a device that addresses an issue faced by charities. For 2020, a group of apprentices in Rochester put their strength and determination to the test and successfully pulled an iconic London double decker red bus as part of fundraising efforts for the U.K. Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM).

Thomas Barry, Adam Blunt, Ben Jamieson, Robert Poynter, Ben Sinclair, and Luke Thomas – all technical apprentices aged between 17 and 18 – used nothing but their own strength to pull the 13 ton behemoth – with our Power and Propulsion Solutions technology on-board – across a 100 meter stretch.

“I’ve never done anything so difficult in my life, said Poynter. “There was a moment toward the end when I was worried we wouldn’t be able to do it, but it was great to get it across the line and all for a great cause as well.”

The task at hand

Collaborating with our Power and Propulsion Systems business area and industry partners, the Rochester team set out to make a difference for patients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham’s RCDM.

The money raised from the event will support the team’s project, which involves designing a solution for patients whose neurological disorders mean that their ability to interact with others in daily life is impacted. Specifically, the device will help patients with vertically and volume awareness issues.

“We’re thankful to those who have already donated and to everyone who came out to support us. The money we’ve raised means we can now develop a device that really benefits those who are at a disadvantage,” said Thomas.

Supporting our future workforce

At Rochester, and across BAE Systems, investing in new talent is seen as crucial to the success of the business. Not only does our apprenticeship program encourage a diverse talent pipeline, but it also provides the resources to meet our customer and program requirements.

Spread out across three years, the U.K. program gives candidates the opportunity to work across a range of business functions, gaining experience in areas such as engineering, quality, and manufacturing. First-year apprentices spend the majority of their time training offsite. They then rotate across the business for the remainder of the two years, harnessing their skills and expertise.

“Apprentices are highly valued by the business. The program is the best way to develop unique and complicated skills, in this case that includes pulling a bus! It helps us to produce the next generation of engineers, leaders, and directors,” said Gary Dawson, Apprentice and Skills Development leader.

The group is still looking for donations to help toward their goal. You can donate to their efforts at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rochester-aic

By Sean Hills, Communications, Rochester, United Kingdom