Author: Katy Feng, MEng Aerospace Engineering
For my External Integrated Placement (EIP) at Rolls-Royce, I am developing simulation tools which allow the rapid design of gas turbine fan blades. The main task is the development of the front and back-end capabilities of the graphical user interface (GUI) for a new design framework that integrates under the hood a number of RR’s analysis tools (e.g. EN54, SK25). This will increase design process efficiency for Rolls-Royce’s Fans & Compressors engineers by reducing sub-system and component design costs and schedule, and enabling multidisciplinary design studies. I am doing this project as part of the Defence Sub-Systems Design Systems team - a small team that aims to integrate new technologies such as AI and machine learning into RR’s processes to keep us competitive. We work in an agile manner, having sprint reviews every three weeks.
I have implemented some improvements, such as extending the options for an interactive visualisation and management of large datasets (saving selected points to a file), and functionalities for the formulation and execution of design studies (runtime execution of user-supplied equations for pre/post-processing purposes).
I am currently working on integrating a surrogate model and optimiser into the GUI in order to save processing time. This project involves a lot of coding in Python, rigorous unit testing, and liaising with stakeholders to understand user requirements.
The coolest day I've had at work
Rolls-Royce Bristol is a great site to work at, as everything is in one place, and you can go see the workshops as well as being in the office. There’s the Bristol Turbine Facility (BTF), where you can see the investment casting of engine parts, the Heritage Trust, which keeps an archive of the old engines and their models, and there are even test beds on site. If you’re lucky, you might be able to see an engine test! We saw the afterburner test on the EJ200 – it was the coolest day I’ve had at work.
There’s also a large cohort of interns and grads, who are all really friendly and have a diverse range of roles. The Apprentices Association is RR’s Early Careers association and they often organise socials like pub crawls, or Ninja Warrior, or monthly payday meals. You get to meet a lot of people from all over, with a range of different experiences, both in academia and in more hands-on roles. It’s a really good learning experience.