• Question: Hello! Your job sounds really interesting, and it's something I would love to do. How much time do you spend in the office? Do you get to do any practical work? What kind of practical jobs are there in aeronautical engineering?

    Asked by UgneS to Matthew on 22 May 2020.
    • Photo: Matthew Calder

      Matthew Calder answered on 22 May 2020:

      Hi UgneS, it’s great that you are interested! There are a lot of really interesting jobs, so probably something you’d like!

      How much time do you spend in the office?
      Currently, around 100% of my time is in the office (or in the house at the moment…) as I am working as a System Design Engineer. This means I spend most of my time understanding what we are all trying to do as a team, creating models, running simulations, and analysing results to determine how we can best make things. When I’m not in the office it is likely for A) training, or B) visiting the build shop/training engines to have a look and discuss with people what has been done in the past (and importantly why) so I can learn from what’s previously been done.

      Do you get to do any practical Work?
      Most lot of engineers spend a lot of their time doing practical work. I’ve personally been involved in making 3D computer models, designing components, analysing data to make recommendations, and building software to make computers do parts of our jobs for us. Although I am assuming you may be talking about more hands-on stuff:
      In my current position there isn’t a lot of hands-on work, but in the past when I was working in “Verification and Validation” I designed test rigs, created build plans, and physically helped to assemble these. I’ve also worked on creating some equipment to use with VR and built some example equipment. Both of these jobs used 3D printing (as this is a rapid way of generating some good physical mock-ups to play with in the first instance) as well as more traditional workshop tools.

      What kind of practical jobs are there in aeronautical engineering?
      The more hand-on jobs relating to aeronautical engineering include (there are likely others, but these areas that come to mind):
      Test Engineer – Can include design and build of test rigs, and running of tests on all sorts of parts and/or systems. This is how we verify we have designed everything correctly, and validate it is doing what we want it to. As part of testing there is also Instrumentation Engineers who ensure all the right equipment is installed to record all the data we need from tests.
      Engineering Technicians and Mechanical Fitters – These are the people who physically assemble (and maintain) products. Without this we wouldn’t have anything to go flying on.
      Materials Engineer – Can involve a lot of lab work, developing new materials to enable us to create better products. This is a big part of how technology is developed, so a very important job.
      Field Service Representative – This is someone who works physically alongside the customer to help with any issues they have when using our products and involves interaction with aircraft on an almost daily basis.
      Failure Investigation Engineer – If something goes wrong during testing, or something doesn’t work as anticipated when in-service, these engineers analyse what went wrong (including a lot of lab work) and make recommendations on how to improve things.