Thanks for the votes so far guys! Happy voting
Before my current job, I had loads of random little jobs: barman at a football ground, waiter, cinema staff, census collector, Sports and activities monitor at a school for international kids. All very random
Aerospace Engineer (with bits of airworthiness engineering and mechanical engineering).
Thales UK, take a peak http://www.thalesgroup.com
I’ve always been fascinated by military aircraft, and now I help make sure they keep flying through all environments.
Hiya, I’m Ed and I’m an Aerospace engineer, working for a large company called Thales. We make loads of different things, but I work for the part of the company that makes controls for pilots, something we call avionics. Loads of engineers help to design the equipment, all doing different things. My work focusses on making sure that the avionics keep working in all environments, no matter how extreme they get!
Lets have a look at an example. Right now I’m working on new controls for an army helicopter called a Chinook, shown below.
What would happen to all those screens and controls if lightning hit the helicopter? What if it’s really cold, really hot or really wet? look at what happens when the Chinook lands in the desert, the sand gets everywhere! will that cause our avionics any problems? These are just a few of the questions I have to answer by testing the equipment .
So how do we test it? Well I don’t go flying through lightning storms, that would be pretty risky (and I like my life!). Instead, all the different bits of the cockpit are put into test chambers where we reproduce the environmental effects. For example for the sand problem we use a special sand chamber which blasts sand and dust at the equipment, while we perform tests to make sure it is still working properly. We make a list of all the environments that we think the equipment would encounter, find a chamber for each one and then test them all in this way. Another example is shown below, where equipment is being tested for humid environments like rain forests where we’d expect a lot of water vapour in the air.
My Typical Day
No two days are the same, I might be at my desk planning new tests and reviewing test data, in the lab supervising the chambers or out meeting customers and suppliers
I usually get in for 8.30, but I can start any time between 7.30 and 9.30, the earlier I start though the earlier I can go home!
I check through my emails for about half an hour. I usually get some from other engineers on the project asking questions about some testing, and some from managers asking how things are going. The project is a big team effort, there are over 20 engineers working on different parts of the cockpit, so communication is very important.
I might spend most of a morning checking through test results to make sure the equipment has passed. The customer tells us what environments they want the equipment to work in, specifying the test limits. I check that the testing we have performed meets their requirements and put it all into a report, showing them that we’ve done exactly what they asked and that the controls were still working afterwards.
I’ve got loads of friends around the office roughly the same age, about 50 graduates started when I did, so I might have a quick coffee break with some of them mid morning. It’s a big open office and as long as you get your work done on time you are pretty much free to roam around and chat, its all very relaxed.
At 12.00 I break for lunch. There’s a canteen where I buy food and hang out with mates for half an hour. It isn’t like school, you are free to take lunch when you want and for between half an hour and one hour in length, its completely up to you to manage your own time.
In the afternoon I might have a meeting, these are pretty regular. I would take in a summary of my work and update managers and other colleagues on progress. If there are any issues or I’m confused about something I can also use the meeting to bring up my problems.
I normal make a few phone calls and send out emails during the day to test sites. We cant do all the tests at our company as we don’t have all the equipment we need, so we have to pay other companies to do the testing for us. I sometimes go on trips to visit these other companies to make sure everything is going ok.
Finally, if I’m lucky, I get to go and have a quick play on the cockpit before heading home! we don’t have the helicopters in our building but we set up a pretend cockpit with all the equipment and run a flight simulator to test it and make sure my environmental work hasn’t broken anything.
I finish at 4.30, and then thats it for me. The work I do is classified so I’m not allowed to take it home… and you know what that means.. no homework! The company runs lots of sports clubs so I usually play a bit of tennis or squash after work with some of my colleagues before heading home for some Netflix and tea!
Today most metal and plastic parts are either made by cutting the shape out of big sheets of metal/plastic, or pouring liquid metal/plastic into a special shaped mould and letting it cool down until it hardens into the right shape. These methods are fine, but they restrict the complexity of the shapes you can make, and cost a lot of money and time if you really do want something complicated. They also have to be done in big factories.
But things are about to change with the introduction of 3D printers! With a 3D printer you can make any shape you want, instantly, anywhere, even at home! They work just like your printer at home, but instead of just printing a picture on a page they print out hundreds of layers of material on top of one another, gluing each layer together until you eventually get a 3D object you can hold!
What I hope to do with the money is buy a 3D printer (like the one shown below) and run a few lessons introducing how it works. In the lessons I would have a competition asking students to design something like a phone holder, and the coolest/most innovative design I would then make in front of their very eyes! The prize being the printed object which that student would then get to keep.
I would also hand the printer over to colleagues who could go and do the same thing at other schools.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
fun, ambitious and enthusiastic
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I once drove a dirt bike through a jungle in Cambodia, it was awesome!
What did you want to be after you left school?
To be honest I had no idea! I picked my degree because aircraft interested me, and worked out what job I wanted to do while at Uni. There is plenty of time to decide!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I got caught copying homework during break and lunch quite a few times… (I don’t copy people’s work any more, I promise Miss)
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
I got to meet one of the army pilots using our equipment, it was very rewarding.
Tell us a joke.
My mate rang me the other day and said “what are you up to?”. I replied “probably failing my driving test”