The first thing Salaheddine Gattaa (20) asked, when he started his internship at Sioux's assembly plant last August, was whether his assignment could be altered. 'I really wanted to learn more about electronics and hoped I would get the chance here, because at school you only learn a little about everything,' he explains. Sioux's team could appreciate his ambition and adapted his assignment. A few months later, the third-year Summa Technology and Engineering student surprised everyone with a self-designed circuit board. 'Not every MBO student can do this,' underlines mechanic Sebastiaan Hovens (49).

Tinkering and fiddling with appliances is a hobby Salaheddine shares with his uncle, together they always pick up a different chore: 'Every time he has something to fix, he calls me: a broken television, a coffee machine that no longer works - we enjoy getting things up and running again,' he explains. So, his choice to study MBO Technology and Engineering was easy, but it is definitely not an end station. Salaheddine wants more: he dreams of a college degree in electrical engineering and a job as an electronics designer. 'I eventually want to design systems myself. Designing is a difficult subject and at school there are few teachers who know much about it. At Sioux, they are right at the forefront, so this internship was a great opportunity to gain more knowledge. It will give me a head start when I move on to higher education later.'

Renewing an Old Testing Machine
With this goal in mind, Salaheddine decided to ask if his internship assignment could be adapted accordingly. 'The original assignment had little to do with electronics, so I asked if it could be something else.' It was allowed. Assembly Mechanic Electronics Sebastiaan Hovens is part of the team that came up with a new assignment for Salaheddine. 'We were using a temporary machine to test the PCBs that come from our suppliers; these PCBs have electronic components on them, which we have to check before use. However, the testing machine was becoming outdated: it took too long to start up, it was not user-friendly and also not reliable enough anymore,' he says. 'The question to Salaheddine was simple: improve that.' 

This assignment was right up Salaheddine's alley. 'After some research on the availability of the desired components, I gave a presentation to the team, presenting three options. The team could vote on those, after which I could start building,' he says. The team chose the total package, where the circuit board was concealed in a plastic box with entries for the cables. 'It would be quite an improvement if everyone could immediately see where to plug in the cables,' Sebastiaan explains. 'That not only works faster and safer, it also prevents mistakes. But what we didn't expect is that Salaheddine would also design the new circuit board himself. He really surprised us with that; not many MBO students can do that. The old machine used to be a jumble of cables, but now it was a clear circuit board with all connections. One of our suppliers produced it to his design.' Whether the new test machine actually works as desired will soon become clear: 'I am still working on it, but I have come a long way already anyway,' says Salaheddine.  

Freedom and independence
The MBO-student likes the space he gets to work on his assignment: 'I can invent, plan and carry out everything myself; I have learned a lot from that. Sometimes things get in the way, or you have to convince someone else to do something for you. That has made me more proactive and independent: I have learned to approach people myself, I dare to ask questions and I am flexible enough to adjust my plans if things don't go as I had planned.' In the latter case, there is always someone within the team willing to help Salaheddine move forward. Sebastiaan: 'We actually guide him all together, we enjoy seeing his love for the profession and giving his development a push.'

According to Sebastiaan, the freedom Salaheddine gets is typical for Sioux: 'If you show initiative, you also get the chance to take your ideas further here. That encourages, I still notice that myself. I have been working at Sioux for four years now, but the pioneering spirit and ambition are still very much present in our team. We meet every morning to discuss problems and come up with solutions. Good ideas get plenty of room here.' 

Would you also like to do an internship at the Assembly Department of Sioux? Sioux is a recognized training company where trainees are most welcome.

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