- Course: Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering MEng, BEng
- Year of graduation: 2018
- Job title: Verification Engineer
- Company: Bombardier Transportation
What have you been doing since finishing your studies? What are you doing in terms of your career?
After graduating in the summer of 2018, I started a graduate role in the rail industry which lasted 2 years. On joining, I started the Monitored Professional Development Scheme (MPDS) with the IMechE, which with around 4 years of work experience and my integrated master’s degree from Leeds, will allow me to become a chartered engineer. I was able to adapt what I learnt at Leeds during the graduate scheme, while I worked in different engineering teams. The graduate programme gave me a chance to understand multiple things, like how the company, rail industry and trains work. As I worked in many teams I made connections that will help me during my full time role and my career. At the end of those 2 years I had added to what I learnt at Leeds and was offered a full time position at the company.
What company are you working for, what is your role and what does it involve?
I work for Bombardier Transportation, a global leader in the rail industry and sustainable mobility (www.rail.bombardier.com). In the UK we design and manufacture rolling stock at one site in Derby, as well as maintain trains across the UK. I’m currently a Verification Engineer where I am part of a team that manages type testing of our AVENTRA trains. My current responsibilities are to help ensure the planned tests are carried out, filling any gaps in the test program. I also manage issues that sometimes occur after testing and ensure that these issues have a minimal impact on the test program. This requires having a technical understanding of the train as well as being able to create and manage plans.
What experiences at Leeds do you think have particularly helped with your career?
Even though I did an Aeronautical and Aerospace course I was able to transfer a lot of skills that I gained while at Leeds. One of the key skills I’ve taken away is working with others in technical teams.
The course is challenging and has a high workload in the final two years, which taught me good time management and how to prioritise tasks. Since I’ve started working in industry the hardest part of the role is to manage your time and ensure you prioritise tasks correctly.
Why did you choose to study your particular course and why did you choose the University of Leeds?
I’ve always been interested in physics along with enjoying maths and problem solving. To add to this I was always interested in aircraft and flight. So studying an engineering course with its focus being aerospace/aeronautical it was what I was looking for.
To why I chose Leeds was down to me undertaking a level 3 BTEC in engineer after I underestimated the amount of work need to pass A-Levels, Leeds was the best University at the time that accepted the BTEC. After looking at Leeds and multiple other University at open days, I soon realised that Leeds was the place I wanted to study. There was a good mix of mechanical engineering topics in the first two years, with the aerospace and aeronautical topics in the third and fourth years all being of interesting to me.
What was the best aspect of your course?
I think the best aspect of the course was the balance of group work and solo work. With the course being very intense in the final two years you are forced to learn how to manage your time. Fellow students and staff are friendly and supportive, which helps to reduce the stress during busy times. There are plenty of places in the engineering buildings that have computers with all the software you need, some being open 24/7 for the times work takes longer than you estimated.
One standout module from the course is Aerospace Flight Mechanics where you get to do a flight lab and Aerospace Vehicle Design. The flight lab is where you take a trip to an airport and have a test flight in a small plane as they do manoeuvres. During the flight you have to take notes while being thrown about. Another standout module is Aerospace Vehicle Design, you are split into small groups to come up with a proposed UAV design to meet a design spec. The best proposals are then chosen by everyone on the module, with the best two being worked on in 2 big teams with multiple sub teams. This gives a brief but good experience of what industry is like in some aspects.
What activities outside of your studies were you involved in?
While at Leeds I got involved the change ringers (church bell ringing) society. I rang bells before coming to Leeds and believed I would be giving it up until I noticed there was a society for it at the Fresher’s Fair. With the society we travelled to multiple other northern universities to meet with other ringing society’s from other universities. I have made friends for life with people at the Leeds society and other universities. I also became part of the committee in the final 3 years of study. This gave me great experiences, like organising annual events, which played a key part of my interviews and helped get me my job in the company.
The peer mentor program in the school of mechanical engineering started while I was in my third year. I became a peer mentor for my final two years for first year students. Together with another student in the school of mechanical engineering I helped a small group of first years with non-academic things.
What would you say to students thinking about studying your course?
I really enjoyed my time at Leeds and recommend the course alone with the University of Leeds. Once at Leeds I would suggest getting involved in as many societies as possible in the first two years. I regret not getting involved in things I don’t have the chance to try now.