Home-grown engineering set to close the skills gap
29 August 2012
Engineering firm Tharsus has found that engineers working on more stimulating or inspiring projects are enthused and motivated in their careers.
Stephen Miller using his new bespoke throwing frame engineered by Tharsus
Blyth-based Tharsus Engineering provides end-to-end engineering and contract manufacturing services for a wide variety of customers and was chosen by one of the longest serving British athletes to support the design of a custom-built frame to enhance his athletic performance.
Paralympian Stephen Miller OBE will represent GB for the fifth time when he competes this year and is expected to make a significant impact having climbed the podium every year since 1996.
When Stephen learned he would be competing this year in the Club Throw event, he was keen to develop his frame to help his training and improve his distances to give him the best chance of winning. He chose to work with Tharsus Engineering, just up the road from his home town of Cramlington.
Brian Palmer, chief executive at Tharsus said: “Even though the majority of our work is based around medium volume manufacturing, projects such as Stephen’s bespoke frame are a great chance for our engineers to solve new problems and gain experience across a wide variety of disciplines.
“There is a persistent skills issue across the engineering sector and some blame this on an inspiration gap. This is threatening some manufacturers’ competitiveness and potentially damaging their chances at success in an increasingly competitive and global marketplace. We view projects like this as an interesting way to challenge and stimulate our engineering and production capabilities.
Tharsus design engineer John Kelso, who worked on Stephen Miller’s frame said: “Stephen’s original frame’s vertical back was restricting his movement, meaning he was unable to throw to his true potential.
“Stephen was an inspiration and was the driving force in the re-design, his ideas and focus on what he wanted to achieve made me passionate to create something that really worked for him and was specifically tailored to his needs - it’s great to think I have contributed to such a well-known and high profile British athlete.”
John continues: “We worked with Stephen to establish the optimum angles for his throwing position, altering the design so that his feet could be positioned at different levels to ensure the perfect combination of comfort and performance.
“The frame is fixed to the ground and works by strapping Stephen in by his thighs, allowing him to use all his force to throw a club with the free range of movement the new angles provide.”
Great Britain representative Stephen Miller from Northumberland said: “I have worked hard for years, studying with research professors in laboratory situations to try and find out how I can better improve my athletic abilities.
“Tharsus has helped me take one step closer to achieving more by creating a frame that is tailored to my needs and I have already seen a vast improvement in my achievements, a clear demonstration of how important it is to achieve the right combination of hard work and the best equipment.
“Tharsus really listened to what I wanted to accomplish with the redesign and I always felt involved, they have done much more than I expected. It’s also great because they too are based in the North East so it’s nice to receive local support.”
Brian Palmer concludes: "What inspired me is seeing the workforce engaging in something with passion - they have developed new skills that they'll now apply to other engineering projects around the world and have had the opportunity to work on something closer to home.
“As a nation we're short on particular engineering disciplines and manufacturing in general isn’t viewed as a glamorous career option. We’ve already attracted a number of young, ambitious engineers to work at Tharsus and hope that projects like this continue to demonstrate the increasingly important role engineering plays in delivering historical moments to the nation and inspiring a future generation."