Stuart Mackay came to City College Norwich from 1976 to 1978 studying for an Ordinary National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering.
Before joining college, he went to Paston Grammar School in North Walsham, and Stephen Fry was a classmate!
But, Stuart tells us that we do not want to hear about those memories!
Whilst at college, his Course Leader was Jack Jonas (who always wore a white Labcoat).
Stuart says he was particularly inspired by one of his Engineering Drawing Lecturers, Peter Blanche (who Bursaries have been named after). He credits Peter, for encouraging him to study Manufacturing Engineering, and says this turned out to be a very lucrative choice of profession.
He studied in what was then known as the E Block, plus the main Norwich Building, in what are now rooms A3 and A4.
The beginning of a career……..
During his second year Stuart was recruited to be a Technician Apprentice with Laurence, Scott & Electromotors, (who were and still are an important employer in the City).
During his non-college time, Stuart would be found working at Laurence and Scott in their apprentice training school plus various departments of the factory and foundry at Gothic Works, Thorpe Road and Salhouse Road.
They were obviously impressed with Stuart’s work, as they sponsored him to complete his HND at Coventry (Lanchester) University from 1978-80 followed by a two year M.Sc in Manufacturing Engineering and Industrial Robotics at Cranfield Institute of Technology from 1980-82.
What happened next?
Stuart finished his studies and was then appointed to become Production Engineering Manager at Schmidt Roadsweepers in Peterborough.
He focussed his career on specialist vehicle manufacturing, and joined the German-based Claas Group, starting at Bury St Edmunds, and was running the UK manufacturing operation in his late 20’s. Later, he was seconded to Germany for 6 years and tasked with establishing Claas Operations in the Peoples Republic of China and India.
In 1995, Stuart returned to the UK, running Claas Manufacturing Technology Consultancy working with blue chip clients such as Airbus UK and Ford Motor Company. He continued building the engineering consultancy business for Claas and became a specialist in automation, improving how companies made their products.
A new way forward, ‘potatoes’ included!
Despite a seemingly glamorous lifestyle of hopping on and off aircraft, and living out of a suitcase, after working with Claas for 26 years, Stuart decided there was more to life!
He was approached by a Cranfield Alumni friend, who asked, if he would like to advise a wide range range of companies, on their automation and robot needs.
This started his career in management consultancy and saw Stuart running his own successful business from home in Swaffham. He advised a wide range of well-known companies, in a diverse range of industry sectors, ranging from potato processing, through to the leading UK manufacturer of domestic electrical plugs, sockets and switches!
Engineering his way back to City College Norwich.
In 2011, his daughter, Livvy was a student at the college, studying Beauty Therapy. Whilst dropping her off one day, he thought he’d pop into reception and see if he could find out how the ‘old place’ had changed!
Suffice to say, 5 years on, two teaching courses later, he’s now proud to be working with Norfolk’s Young People in Mechanical, Aviation and Motorsport Engineering.
“It has closed the circle of a journey started 40 years previously by Jack Jonas and his team in the “Tech” engineering department!”
We are delighted he came back to the college as he’s been a real asset to the team!
His inspirational teaching was recognised earlier this year, when Stuart was awarded, ‘Aviation Skills Coach / Mentor / Trainer / Teacher of the Year 2015′ at a reception in the House of Commons, during the launch of the Aviation Skills Partnership’s first Aviation Skills Manifesto.
Out of work passions and lifelong friends!
Stuart made some good friends whilst studying, one being Mark Taylor from Stalham, who now has his own architect’s practice near Brighton and he still sees regularly. He met his first ‘girlfriend’ at college, Diane Wilkinson from Brundall, she still lives in the City and they stay in touch via social media.
A staff member, with whom he’s still in contact with, is Victor Thomas, he was Head of Maths and Computing, they both share a love of Lotus Cars!
Lotus Cars and aviation, have been lifelong passions of Stuart’s, he has built Race cars and regularly takes his Porsche GT3 on Trackdays at Snetterton and further afield.
Stuart is hoping his Lotus connection will be seen at the 9th July Open Day!
He’s been in touch with his connections at Classic Team Lotus, and is hoping they will be bringing one of their historic and priceless F1 cars to display and inspire the next generation of Norfolk engineers!