Martin is a Corporate Lifting Specialist with Rolls-Royce in Filton. That means that he’s a senior aerospace engineer and as he regularly makes time to attend careers fairs, you may see him at one of yours in due course. We asked him what he does for Rolls-Royce and some of the experiences he’s had during his career. Here’s what he told us …
What do I do?
I find ways to keep gas turbines safe & lasting longer in jet fighters, airliners, helicopters, ships and power stations. The aim is to make new ones better than ever and keep old ones going safely. All theories need to be tested – because people might die if we get it wrong – so I get paid to deliberately blow stuff up!!!
What’s a typical day like?
Every day is different. I’ve lived and worked in both America and Germany as part of the job and routinely have to deal with people from all over the world. This requires a lot of interpersonal skills, tact, diplomacy and patience on both sides!
I also have to use my imagination and experience to find ways of doing old things better, as well as doing things that have never been done before, so creativity is a key skill, perhaps unexpectedly, in my engineering role.
It’s not always fun either – otherwise they wouldn’t pay me for it. But most days involve much more good stuff than bad and it’s great working in a team of people who all support each other and want to do things better.
So how did I get here?
I did Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Engineering Drawing at A level followed by Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bristol. I then got an apprenticeship at Rolls-Royce where I spent two years trying out all sorts of job and learning how the company works. You spend too much of your life at work not to find something that you like doing so it was important for me to find the right specialism within the business.
Things I’ve done:
I’ve designed things that are now flying around! It’s really satisfying the first time you see something that you designed ‘in the metal’.
I’ve also done a lot of stress analysis using powerful computers – computers are very much a part of engineering – to understand how parts of engines behave under different conditions and ensure that they are strong enough and not too heavy. This can be difficult and painstaking, but satisfying because you know that nothing gets made without your work to show that it’s okay.
I’ve deliberately destroyed millions of pounds’ worth of parts and materials by running them till they break so that we can make sure they work safely. It also meant that we could understand the material and engine more and so can do even better next time. It is a constant learning process.
This can be great fun, but a bit stressful when things go bang too soon…..so we can spend months planning a test that is suddenly over in minutes!
I’ve lead teams of engineers and, as your team can do much more than you could on your own, you will achieve much more in this business if you can be a great team-player. The qualities I’d look for include being good at coming up with ideas, solving problems, and getting on with people under pressure.
Being able to adapt to change and cope with stress can also help as the roles involve a lot of variety because you’re doing a bit of everything in your team and anything which is late – or which goes wrong – is inevitably your fault!
In my specialist role, I help people all over the world when they are stuck on difficult problems, and try and write better instructions or computer programs so they don’t get stuck again. I also talk to safety agencies in Europe and America to make sure they understand what we do and are happy with it. And I help them to write the rules for keeping planes safe as well as try and solve tomorrow’s problems today with concepts such as electric or biofuel aeroplanes, tidal power, pilotless airliners etc
Focus on doing what you really enjoy. Keep up Maths and Physics as they are at the core of engineering, but develop analytical and communication skills too. And try and get some work experience too.
Engineering is a great career and there are always opportunities which are challenging, exciting and rewarding. As an engineer you are always learning new things and there are so many different aspects that you can get involved in. The opportunities are out there you just need to be prepared to take them and go for it.
How can you find out more?
On Tuesday 7th March, Rolls-Royce are hosting an exclusive information evening for those interested in the higher apprenticeships starting September 2017. Details on Careersnearhere: https://www.careersnearhere.com/inspiration/entry/6262/. Get this incredible opportunity on your CV and Personal Statement, find out more – and get inspired!
Thank you Martin – https://www.rolls-royce.com/ Twitter: @RollsRoyce
Careersnearhere.com: It’s Your Future – Let’s Get It Started.
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