Author: Hamish Graham, third-year MEng Aerospace Engineering student
All aerospace students at the university must complete a group project as their second semester in the third academic year; however, there is also an option to complete an external integrated project (EIP) at a company instead of doing the university group projects. I decided to take this opportunity and am now working at Rolls-Royce Defence in Bristol on a six-month placement.
Working for a company with an incredible history
Rolls-Royce has created iconic engines over the years such as the Merlin used in the Spitfire and the Olympus used in the Concorde, so I feel privileged to be able to work for a company that has such an incredible history. It is also a competitive industry that is constantly evolving which makes it an exciting company to be part of. For example, just recently Rolls-Royce set a world’s first by achieving a test run of a modern aero engine on hydrogen. As someone interested in sustainable aviation it has been great to see the company’s steps towards a more sustainable future for the industry.
My project is to improve a strain gauge placement tool used by Rolls-Royce. Strain gauges are used in engine testing to measure the dynamic amplitudes of components and are essential to ensure that vibration limits are met. Improving this tool will better optimise strain gauge usage and save the company time and money throughout the testing process.
An unforgettable experience
This EIP has allowed me to greatly improve my personal and professional skill set. My project requires me to be able to use the programming language FORTRAN 77, which is an abbreviation for FORmula TRANslation. Although this is an old programming language from the 70s, a lot of engineering programs have been written in FORTRAN as its purpose is for science and engineering applications. It is therefore a great skill to have learned and is also transferable to other coding languages.
During my placement so far, I have also been able to make a lot of connections in the company, from full-time employees to graduate students and interns. This has been a great opportunity to gain an insight into an engineering company. It has also given me the opportunity to apply what I have learned at university in industry. A highlight that sticks out to me was the opportunity to be able to see an EJ200 engine test. The EJ200 is used in the Eurofighter Typhoon, a European multirole fighter jet. Getting to see the blue flames coming out of the engine from the afterburners was amazing as it gave me a visual representation of what I had been learning about last semester!
This has been an incredible experience, especially as this placement counts towards my degree. Through the EIP I have been able to finish my third academic year and gain professional engineering experience at the same time.