Fired Up Corporation Ltd is an award winning manufacturer of appliances for the home improvement, hotel supply and healthcare industries. Following significant recent expansion, the business now encompasses several household brands (including Corby of Windsor, Adam Fires and Abel Mobility) and employs 350 staff at sites in China, the US and the UK.
Since 2006, Fired Up has welcomed sandwich year students from the School of Art, Design and Architecture. The success of this scheme has led to many of those students returning to join the company full-time, designing and developing a diverse range of products at its head office in Huddersfield.
The excellent teaching quality, research facilities and strong links with industry at the University of Huddersfield consistently enable it to produce the calibre of graduates that industry needs and to provide the placement opportunities that are key to student employability.
There is no substitute for hands-on experience, which is why work placements are such a vital part of the Huddersfield experience. The university is in the top ten in England for sandwich course placements and businesses return year on year to take its students. For some companies, this system is so rewarding that Huddersfield graduates now form the core of their business team.
Fired Up Corporation Limited is a local manufacturer of hotel and domestic products that has welcomed Huddersfield design students on placement for the past eight years. Five of the complement at the company’s UK base, less than two miles from the University’s School of Art, Design and Architecture, are Huddersfield graduates including the company’s Design Manager, Lee Isherwood.
“I came to Fired Up as part of my degree placement in 2006,” recalls Mr Isherwood. ”It was a great advantage for me to work with the experienced team here and I was able to stay with the company on a part time basis while I finished my degree.” After graduating with a first in Product Design, Mr Isherwood returned to a full time role and has been responsible for strengthening ties with the University since then.
“My placement was such a success that we immediately took on another student who has since followed me into the company,” Mr Isherwood continues. “We now have a top notch team of product designers that have come from Huddersfield on placement, gone on to achieve first class degrees and then returned to work for us full-time.”
Nearly all courses at Huddersfield include an element of work placement and the School of Art, Design and Architecture supplies students to leading design companies in the UK and overseas. “Major manufacturers such as Dyson and Lego regularly take our graduate students,” says Chris Howard, Course Leader in Product Design. “But we also have a remit to work with local industry, and creative, forward looking businesses like Fired Up understand the advantages an industry placement gives them.”
Fired Up is a popular choice with the Product Design students and the company, in turn, knows that applicants are well equipped for the job. For Chris Howard this real-world experience is an integral part of the students’ education. “We involve industry partners throughout the course,” he explains. ”In addition to providing placements, manufacturers set and assess some project work. Many of these projects are successful enough to end up in the marketplace, which is a great vote of confidence for the students.”
Students on the course thrive under the real-world pressure and experience they get from this interaction. “We focus heavily on providing a professional learning experience and the students really buy in to this,” says Mr Howard. “We also get the feedback to ensure the coursework stays relevant and I am proud to see former students progress to positions of responsibility with many of these businesses.”
For Fired Up, this resource has supported significant growth over recent years. “Our people are our greatest asset,” explains Mr Isherwood. “It is always good to be able to give an ambitious student their first job but the Huddersfield method works particularly well for us and consistently produces the experienced and intelligent graduates that we need.”