A design engineer is coupling more than a decade of his industrial experience with the expertise at Wrexham Glyndwr University to gain a new qualification via a Degree Apprenticeship.

James Bonner, from Great Sutton near Ellesmere Port, works at iCAM Engineering in Connah’s Quay as a Design Engineer.

Since the launch of Engineering Degree Apprenticeships at Glyndwr  in May 2019, has been studying at Glyndwr one day a week to work towards a BEng in Industrial Engineering Design.

He said: “I have actually been working in my industry since I was sixteen – so more than ten years!

“I started off as a welder, and worked up to the job I am doing now as a design engineer, and then last year I was asked by the company I work at ‘do you want to do a degree apprenticeship?’

“For me, straight away, the answer was yes – getting a qualification like this is something I have always wanted to do.

“I have been in the industry for many years, and during that time I have built up many qualifications. These include NVQs in welding and fabrication and a BTEC in operations and maintenance, but I’ve always wanted to have a degree too.

“You can prove your experience through your work, but having the degree thanks to Glyndwr’s Degree Apprenticeship will be a real help in demonstrating what I can do.”

As a mature student with a  young family, James began his course with concerns about whether or not he would be able to fit into an academic environment.

However, he has found Glyndwr’s supportive culture to be a major boost to his studies.

He added: “Every staff member I have come across so far has been really nice – and they all want to help you as much as they can. They are willing to give support when you are finding certain subjects difficult.

“In particular, Maria Kochneva has been a massive help, especially in regard to my learning of mathematics. Nothing seems too much trouble for her and she is often taking time out of her schedule to give one on one support – she is a brilliant tutor.

“Martyn Jones, one of our engineering lecturers, has been great too – if you have any questions, he’s always really helpful and he gets back to you really quickly when you get in touch with him.

“It’s good to have that support – juggling work, study and family life can make it tricky so knowing people are there for you at Glyndwr is a real bonus.”

Developing his university work alongside his family life and his career in industry means that James has found himself developing a structured approach to his studies – and he is using Glyndwr’s newly-opened social learning spaces, such as the Study and the Gallery, to their full advantage – even first thing in the morning.

He added: “I often come in early – I’m here from 7am  even though our classes don’t start until 9am, but there’s study rooms, shops and places to eat so you can just get on with things before your lectures.

“As you’d expect, there is a lot of work to do on a course like mine  – which is alright as long as you structure it and utilise your time effectively.

“For lots of us on Degree Apprenticeships, because we are all working, that makes a difference. I’m not here to mess about, I’m here to get a degree. It all fits together, and I know I am doing it for my family as well as for myself!”

iCAM Operations Director Peter Barlow said:  “I have been impressed by how quickly James, our Design Engineer at iCAM Engineering Ltd, has grasped the subject material.

“With his flourishing career at ICAM, coupled with the excellent teaching and support resources at Glyndwr University, I am sure James will surpass himself in his Mechanical Engineering degree.”

To find out more about Degree Apprenticeships at Wrexham Glyndwr University – and whether your company could be eligible – contact the university’s Enterprise team via email on or visit: