A UNIVERSITY Student from Northern Ireland has been shortlisted in the National Undergraduate Employability (NUE) Awards for a remarkable contribution to one of Northern Ireland’s leading manufacturers during his placement year. 

Ben Middleton, who is studying Product Design Engineering at Queen’s University in Belfast, has been shortlisted in the ‘Best Student Contribution to a Small to Medium-sized Employer’ category at this year’s NUE awards, for his contribution to Carrickfergus-based IPC Mouldings. During his time with the injection moulding specialist, Ben made a significant impact to the company, gaining experience coordinating complex tooling projects and becoming an integral contributor of engineering solutions within the technical team.  

Commencing his placement year in May 2018, Ben worked as a quality engineer before progressing to project engineer in February 2019. In the context of a fast-paced manufacturing environment, this latter role meant that Ben had a lot more responsibility and the management team at IPC Mouldings had no hesitation about his capability.

IPC Mouldings’ Operations Manager, John McPherson, said, “Ben has an undeniable desire to succeed and worked extremely hard, doing what he could to understand the intricacies of our business and how his role would impact the product.  Ben always went the extra mile throughout the course of his placement demonstrating competency and maturity and we had no doubt about his capability to take on the project engineer role.  He has definitely set the bar high for future student placements.”

Ben’s contribution to IPC Mouldings was instrumental during the Design for Manufacture stage of a complex aerospace tooling project.  This project involved multiple products within a demanding timescale, with high customer expectations. Ben challenged engineering opinion that the preferred design was not possible by proposing his own design to meet the customer’s manufacturing requirements. Through daily communication, he managed a key part of the technical negotiation resulting in all parties agreeing with Ben’s design solution, which minimised the risk of unnecessary delays during tool manufacture and new product implementation.

Speaking about being shortlisted as a finalist in the NUE awards and his time with IPC, Ben said, “I am very happy to have been named as a finalist although it’s something I never could have imagined when I first joined IPC. 

“I’ve always had a great interest in aerospace and how things work; when the opportunity to carry out a placement with IPC came up, I was delighted as I was able to gain experience in an area that I was extremely passionate about. When I joined the team at IPC, I was given a great deal of responsibility and opportunity which I fully embraced. I wanted to learn and contribute as much as I could, and I was offered fantastic support from the Management team, which has contributed to me being shortlisted for this award.” 

Managing Director of IPC Mouldings, Joanne Liddle said, “IPC Mouldings is committed to ensuring the sustainability of our business for the next generation of engineers and welcomes the contribution of excellent students like Ben.   

“Throughout his time, Ben has made a great impression, not only with his colleagues and the management team, but with our suppliers and customers. Ben is customer focused; delivering results in a dynamic environment with resourcefulness and a strong grasp of complex technical issues. Team IPC wish him well for the NUE awards.”

As a result of his contribution to IPC, the company has offered Ben a full-time position following his graduation in 2020 and is delighted that he has accepted the offer.