Ove Ronny Haraldsen
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In February, KONGSBERG invited first-year pupils from a number of upper secondary schools as well as some lower secondary schools to the composite factory at Arsenalet. Within 1 March, the pupils must decide on where to apply for their further education. One option is the second-year course in plastic and composites offered by Kongsberg upper secondary school as of autumn 2016.
Arsenalet is where KONGSBERG produce parts made of composite materials for fighter planes, helicopters and missiles. It is by far the most specialized environment in Norway for this kind of production and requires highly skilled labour. The demand will increase in the years to come, which is why KONGSBERG are actively supporting education within plastic and composites.
Terje Bråthen, Executive Vice President for Kongsberg Aerostructures, is one of the people behind this new educational programme. The programme is tailored to the needs of the industry and offers apprenticeship certificates within composite polymers, plastics materials repairs and operations, thermoplastics and production techniques. This can be followed up by studies at the Tinius Olsens School, the University College of Southeast Norway and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
“I am proud and happy that the industry, in cooperation with Buskerud County Municipality, has established a complete educational pathway for composites here in Kongsberg.” Plastic and composites are materials for the future. Development will head in the direction of self-healing plastic materials and materials that change shape in response to strain. Moreover, carbon fiber composites will become important in 3D printing”, Bråthen told the young audience.
Educational programmes from the upper secondary school and up to university level are now being integrated with each other. This national commitment to the field of plastic and composites is being crowned by a new laboratory at the Krona Center for Culture and Knowledge in Kongsberg.
The laboratory is to be used by pupils and students from upper secondary schools, technical schools and college universities. Funding comes from the industry and Buskerud County Municipality. KONGSBERG have contributed with an autoclave oven used for curing composites.
“The composites lab at Krona will be one of the most important tools in acquiring knowledge and skills within the field of plastic and composites”, according to the brochure from Kongsberg upper secondary school.
The visit at Arsenalet included a guided tour of the 30,000 square metre factory premises. Fredrik Hvamb, who is an apprentice at the K-Tech training center, demonstrated what is like to work with a composite material.
“You have to be thorough and concentrate all the time. Sloppiness is not permitted. When you add layers of composite over each other, it is important that no air gets in-between them. If this happens, the composite will not be approved and has to be discarded”, 19-year-old Hvamb told the attending youth who were mostly aged between 15 and 16.
Two of the pupils visiting the composites factory from Notodden upper secondary school this Wednesday were Mikael Moen Rønningen and Silje Josefine Larsen. Both of them now know a lot more about plastic and composites.
“We haven’t learnt that much about composites in school, so it is quite interesting to hear them say that composites are the future”, says Silje Josefine Larsen.
“I agree, we have seen how light and strong composites are”, adds Michael Moen Rønningen.
“Have you decided what education to apply for, or is it still an open question?
“I haven’t quite decided yet, but after today I’m more inclined towards composites”, says Mikael.
“I am considering several options. It is very difficult. There is so much that is interesting! But as Michael says, composites are very interesting when you learn about them here instead of at school. It could be fun”, says Silje Josefine Larsen.