Puja Patel

Meet Puja Patel
What made you interested in attending taster weeks?
Throughout my time at school I always enjoyed science and maths, however I never had a clear idea of the career path those subjects could lead me towards. I was unsure of how those skills could be applied within the field of engineering, as it was an industry that wasn’t heavily promoted at my school. When my teacher suggested I consider applying for the Engineering Taster Week at BAE Systems, I discovered I had a lot of the right traits that make up a good engineer.
What do you remember about the taster week?

The multiple tours around the site’s high-tech facilities were an obvious highlight for me personally. Another memorable point during the week was being tasked with designing our very own cockpit for a fast-jet. Despite only knowing one another for a few days, my team really came together and produced a concept which won us the challenge!
What did you take away from the week and what did you do with what you learned?

A big takeaway for me was simply better understanding what being an engineer was all about. The week played a massive part in my decision-making for further education, in terms of the subjects I was going on to study for both the International Baccalaureate and my choice of degree at university. There were parts of the week which were challenging, but that’s all part of creating a memorable and lasting experience. I came away more confident and inspired to pursue an exciting career!
What do you do now?

I’m now in my second year of the graduate scheme at Rochester. I’ve had placements in mechanical design and analysis, and in the manufacturing team. My mechanical design placement was within the active inceptors team during which I worked on test rigs for multiple products, some of which are in use now. Both my manufacturing and analysis placements were focused on looking at our head-up display technologies; conducting thermal analyses for some of our core displays products. I’m looking to join the mechanical analysis team when I finish the programme.
How did the experience help you get where you are now?

The week was a fair representation of what to expect a career in engineering to consist of. We were provided with a great overview of BAE Systems as a whole, as well as the opportunities that exist within the company. I went on to study aerospace engineering at university, and partway through my degree I returned to BAE Systems for a 12-month placement, working as a mechanical engineer. During my university application process I was able to reference my week’s experience at BAE Systems; I’d like to think this made my application stand out amongst the crowd.
To this day I use the skills I developed during the taster week. The array of activities provided practical, hands-on insight into the world of engineering, developing my teamwork and presentation skills, which I took advantage of during my studies at university.
Have you got any advice for others considering applying for the taster weeks?

It’s a really enjoyable week and the experience gained from it is invaluable. All of the engineering disciplines are covered, so if you’re unsure about where you might ‘fit’ in the engineering world, I would highly recommend applying. Even if you have zero real-world experience in engineering, don’t be put off — that’s exactly what the taster week is for!