Ex-F1 engineer sings praises of new £75million academy on the banks of the River Devon

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A new £75million college will open on the banks of the River Dart next month after 10 years of planning. And a former Paignton student who went on to work in Formula 1 motor racing and now runs a successful marine services business will be there to help open it up.

The former historic Philip and Son shipyard in Noss will host the new South Devon College Marine Academy. The 37-acre site was operated by Philip from 1918 until it closed in the 1990s.

In the mid-1920s it produced coastal tankers, ferries and excursion boats, then during World War II it manufactured more than 200 steel and wooden ships, corvettes, wooden minesweepers and patrol boats. air-sea rescue. In September 1942, the yard was bombed by the Luftwaffe and 20 employees were killed. In the 1950s, the yard continued to build coasters, tankers, ferries, tugs, freighters and passenger ships. Light boats for Trinity House were built there, as was Chay Blyth’s famous round-the-world yacht, British Steel.

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Jake Cronk, who studied marine engineering at South Devon College, says it was his time at Paignton College that kick-started his career. Now managing director of Salcombe Marine Services, he then completed an apprenticeship and went on to university in mechanical engineering. In his senior year, he received the prestigious Whitworth Scholarship from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

After graduating first class, Jake returned to the Mercedes AMG Formula 1 and Formula E teams, where he had spent time on probation during his studies. “The course had excellent facilities, with very supportive tutors,” Jake explained. “They’ve always wanted to offer more and there’s nothing like it in the South West.

“I loved the fast nature of being a powertrain design engineer for Formula 1, but it was hard work, although I got to meet Formula 1 drivers like Lewis Hamilton. However, missing the sea and wanting to become self-employed, Jake returned to Salcombe, where he joined Salcombe Marine Services.

“I’ve always loved boats, I grew up by the sea, and I’ve always been interested in anything fast,” he said. “And my love for engineering started when I was a kid, I loved taking motorcycles apart and seeing how they worked.”

The new South Devon College Marine Academy says it wants to help bridge the skills gap and meet the demands of the changing maritime sector by providing its students with a dynamic and flexible education with strong industry connections. The academy will provide students of all ages with top-notch facilities, including a marine engineering workshop, research and design facility, innovation center, navigation suite and bridge simulator, as well as open classrooms and breakout rooms.

The program has been designed around the needs of the maritime sector and will provide training in new and emerging technologies, including autonomous vessels and electric/hybrid propulsion. Many full-time courses are offered in subjects ranging from marine engineering and maritime skills to apprenticeships in boat building, warehousing and composites and university-level qualifications in marine technologies, coastal engineering and more.

Fourteen years after studying marine engineering at South Devon College, Jake Cronk has two college apprentices at SMS. Callum Berridge is doing an apprenticeship in boat building and George Carter is in his final year of marine engineering apprenticeship and will join SMS full time. The South Devon College Marine Academy is officially opened on April 8 by Sarah Kenney, President of Maritime UK.

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