The company Linz Center of Mechatronics GmbH, based in Linz, has about 115 employees; their special field of work is mechatronics—the intelligent integration of IT (including software), mechanical engineering and electronics. The specific know-how of the employees is the basis for research and development cooperation arrangements and also the basis for the design of new, smart, networked and autonomous systems for the manufacturing industry. “The success factor of Linz Center of Mechatronics GmbH is the high level of qualification of its employees, who in addition to their outstanding technical knowledge, share common values”, according to the two managing directors, Gerald Schatz and Johann Hoffelner. It is also unique that since 2014 LCM has been covering the complete range of training. This means from the apprentice through to the academic with a PhD. Patrick Weissengruber relates about his experience as an apprentice at LCM:

Since when have you been a mechatronics apprentice at LCM? I have been on a mechatronics apprenticeship at Linz Center of Mechatronics GmbH since 1 September 2014.The mechatronics apprenticeship takes 3.5 years. So I have now started the third year of my apprenticeship.

Why LCM in particular?How did you arrive at the idea of going to LCM? My attention was drawn to LCM by a job advertisement on the Internet. Most companies, especially corporate groups, have lots of apprentices and therefore a rigidly formal time schedule for the apprenticeship training. As a result everything is usually planned down to the smallest detail, leaving no room for independent working or any own approaches to solving problems. At LCM I am able to introduce my own ideas into my work, meaning that I can think and work really innovatively and, above all, learn. It was clear to me from the very beginning that an excellent apprenticeship is guaranteed at LCM. Not only employees with top training, but also the staff of associate institutes offer a great contact point for questions and a great working environment.

What school did you attend before that? I previously went to Paul Hahn-HTL (Paul Hahn Technical College), Linz; I was in the electrical engineering department. However, in the second year I realized that this just wasn’t the right thing for me. So I looked around for an apprenticeship. I wanted more practical experience, yet still get my higher school certificate (equivalent to GCSE A-level).So I am now on a mechatronics apprenticeship at LCM, which comes complete with the higher school certificate. When I have finished the higher school certificate, I would like to take a university degree. The cooperation between LCM and the university gave me the idea.

What do you like most about your work, your training? What don’t I like? Most of all, I like the variety in the work and the environment. Although I am an apprentice, the door to my colleagues is always open; they are there to help me whenever I have a question. It is precise, defined, flexible, innovative work and that is what I like. I have been able to participate in many different projects and my widely varying tasks are simply fascinating. The range of these tasks covers circuit design, the assembly of printed circuit boards, mechanical work such as CNC turning and milling, design work in Pro-E (CAD) and PLC programming. Basically, I do practically everything that mechatronics has to offer and I learn from it. Through the close cooperation with JKU (Johannes Kepler University) I am able to participate in many courses for apprentices at the university; so great further education opportunities are on offer in addition to the apprenticeship. The only disadvantage is that at the trade school I am only among people of my own age. At the company I am the only apprentice. It is often difficult for me to find out how much I have actually already learned in this or that department.

What do you think is special for you at LCM? One of the special features for sure is the high concentration of top-trained colleagues, from whom one can learn a lot and that is just great. And, particularly in the apprenticeship training, that not everything is standardized for the masses. I am the only apprentice here and just enjoy the individual training. As a result I am able to introduce a lot more ideas myself and learn in many different areas of work. The pace of learning is therefore individually tailored to me. I can get the best out of it for myself and make use of the opportunity to learn an incredible amount.

Do you have a specialist field in mechatronics that particularly interests you? No, the whole field of mechatronics appeals to me. Lots of varying tasks, which, however, are connected to one another. Well, I have noticed that I have a slight inclination towards drive and automation technology.

What are your hopes for the future? To secure for myself the best possible training and pass my apprenticeship and higher school certificate. Possibly a university degree, a stay abroad would also be great and to finally become an important, essential and supportive part of LCM in the future.

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