Students were given a behind-the-scenes look into the world of welding after being invited to a Teesside engineering firm.
The 10 students, who are currently studying their BTEC Level 1 in Fabrication and Welding at Hartlepool College of Further Education, visited Katmex in Stockton.
The tour was led by tutor Cliff Down, who said the experience and opportunity to get an insight into a real working environment would be invaluable for the students.
During the visit, students saw staff carrying out their daily work as well as being given an explanation on how the business operated and which machinery was used.
Cliff said: “We have great facilities in the workshops at Hartlepool College and they are working hands-on a lot of the time.
“But nothing beats the sounds and smells of a working plant. It makes me want to get back on the tools myself.
“Hopefully the students who visited Katmex will now have a better understanding of what goes on in a business of this nature, and that will help them as they continue to progress through their course.
“I’d like to thank David and the team at Katmex for being so welcoming, and we look forward to working with them in the future.”
Katmex has more 100 employees and provides the large steel parts to build heavy machinery such as diggers and cranes. It has the capacity to process 2,500 tonnes of steel plates each month.
The tour was led by Katmex Managing Director David Mitchell, who has overseen the running of the business for the past 10 years since a management buy-out from its Japanese founders.
Mr Mitchell said: “It is great to see the next generation of welders and fabricators coming to see what we are all about.
“They were all very keen and interested in what goes on at the plant and we thoroughly enjoyed having them here.”
Hartlepool College has an impressive track record with engineering apprentices over the years, and last year two students – Anthony Smith and Scott Pearson – were crowned as the best technicians in the UK at a prestigious ceremony hosted by The Welding Institute at Cambridge University.