A female Engineer on the fast track

On International Day of Women and Girls in Science we put the spotlight on Jas Cordelle, a Mazak Apprentice now making her mark in our Spindle Service Centre and on the racetrack.

Yamazaki Mazak’s apprenticeship programme has grown dramatically over the last decade with the company currently putting more than 60 apprentices through training.

One of Mazak’s priorities with its apprentice scheme is encouraging more women into engineering, and one of the early success stories is Jas (short for Jasmine) Cordelle, who joined the company nearly 10 years ago.

“I didn’t really like exams at school because I learn better from physically doing something rather than studying,” explains Jas. “I’d always been around engineering because my dad is a design engineer and I have been involved in drag bike racing from the age of 10, so I was probably predisposed towards engineering as a career.”

Jas’ interest firmed up when her dad took her to a number of careers fairs to find out more about local companies. “That was when I first met people from Mazak, and they became my first choice as a future employer.”

After leaving school at 16, her first year as a Mazak apprentice involved studying for her Higher National Diploma (HNC) in Mechanical Engineering, a Level 3 qualification that was based in a local training centre studying the basics of engineering. Year 2 was more factory-based, working three-to-four-week rotations in different areas of Mazak’s European Manufacturing Plant in Worcester. In their third year the apprentices begin to specialise, and Jas chose Mazak’s Spindle Service Centre (SSC) as her area of expertise.

The SSC is a dedicated resource within the factory that aims to maximise spindle performance, one of the most important parts of any machine tool.

“There are 45 employees in the SSC and I found the atmosphere very welcoming and friendly. Also, no two days are ever the same – I can be in the SSC one day and the next be out and about with a customer helping to solve their problems.”

Jas says that the prospect of working in what was, at the time, a male-dominated factory was daunting at first. “When I started there was only one other girl on the shopfloor. But I’d been in a very male dominated sport with my drag racing, so I was used to working alongside men.”

Nowadays, Jas is far from alone as a female engineer at Mazak. “There are half a dozen girls just on the shopfloor now and more coming through the apprenticeship scheme.”

In her spare time, Jas continues to race drag bikes over the standard quarter mile track, reaching speeds of more than 160 mph. “I’m the youngest racer in my highly competitive class, and last season I achieved a personal best of 7.58 seconds. This season my goal is to be even more competitive and put in a good showing at Nitrolympx at the Hockenheim Formula One track in Germany in August.”

And Jas’ career plans? “I’m currently studying for my HNC Level 5 and my line managers are really encouraging me. Despite its size, Mazak is still a family company with a supportive culture. The older, more experienced engineers recognise that it’s part of their role to bring on the next generation, so it’s a great place to learn and to work.”