A Marshall apprenticeship is an incredible way to build hands-on experience across a range of platforms, but it can also be a path to unexpected and extraordinary possibilities.
Callum Cochrane perfectly embodies these possibilities. Having finished his apprenticeship in 2022, Callum has temporarily downed tools to take up a year-long secondment as a transformation specialist within Marshall Aerospace, a role that Marshall’s own CEO Kathy Jenkins helped him find.
We spoke to Callum to find out more about how he made this transition from being an apprentice.
Tell us about your current role.
“My current role is a transformation specialist, where I am primarily working on the digital MRO (maintenance, repair, and overhaul) roadmap. This involves implementing new technology and solutions in the hangars, like introducing automated delivery robots, asset tracking and automated engine humidity sensing.
“We’re just about to start a live trial on automated humidity sensing, which is a cool project. It involves placing wireless sensors in the intakes and exhaust of the aircraft engines, so engineers can login to an online portal and track humidity remotely, eliminating the need for working at height to carry out manual readings.
“I’m working in a team of two along with another former apprentice.”
What has been the highlight of your transformation role so far?
“I guess the highlight so far this year would be working on turning the Marshall ARC-Radar products into a VR experience. Last year I went to [the Royal International Air Tattoo] on the Sunday as a visitor; this year I got to go for the whole weekend, sharing ARC-Radar with customers, which was really cool.
“I had a baptism of fire in terms of sales: it rained on the Friday, so there weren’t many air displays, meaning the VR experience was really popular!”
You were working as an Aircraft Airframe and Engines Fitter. How did you make the transition to work in transformation?
“I had always wanted to be an aircraft fitter and engineer – and I was really enjoying it as it was an incredibly rewarding role, but I also wanted to try something a bit different.
“When I was coming to the end of my apprenticeship, our cohort had meetings with Kathy Jenkins as we were finishing up our apprenticeship – and she was really supportive when I expressed an interest in trying something else out.
“Kathy helped connect me with a range of people in Aerospace to have career development chats – and from there, I applied to this transformation role. I think it says something about this company that someone at that level was willing to sit down with people at my level and give help and career advice.”
What made you want to take up a Marshall apprenticeship in the first place?
“I was always interested in aviation. My grandfather was a hobbyist pilot, and my uncle was an RAF pilot, and also flew search and rescue helicopters. I’d always wanted to be a pilot – but didn’t really enjoy the style of learning at school.
“My grandfather knew about Marshall and the apprenticeship programme and nudged me to have a look at it. I missed the original application date, so spent a year doing a 90-credit engineering diploma at college to build the foundation, before applying for the next year.”
What is it about engineering that particularly caught your imagination?
“I think I was one of those kids that was really into pulling things apart and understanding how they worked. I wasn’t necessarily putting them back together properly though at that age! With my interest in aviation, this meant I always knew that if I couldn’t learn to fly planes, I’d want to fix them instead.”
Would you recommend the Marshall apprenticeship to others?
“From hand skills to the experience you gain on the aircraft, the apprenticeship and training programme here is levels above anywhere else. Since Marshall carries out such specialist and in-depth repairs and modifications to aircraft, you will gain experience that you will not find anywhere else. But it’s not just structural work: you will gain huge amounts of aircraft control system and engine maintenance experience.
“It really gives you a solid foundation coming out of your four-year apprenticeship. If you hear from anyone that's gone elsewhere within the aerospace industry who's done an apprenticeship at Marshall, they have pretty much walked through the door in terms of getting into MRO facilities.”
Finally, what would you like the future to hold for you?
“Personally, I’d like to stay within the aerospace industry working on new emerging platforms. That would be cool. And if I can earn enough, I’d like to do my Private Pilot’s Licence in future.”