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Grace Handley

Let's meet Grace Handley, who wanted to learn more about aerospace engineering

What made you interested in attending taster weeks?

I have always loved mathematics and physics so engineering was an obvious career choice for me, but there are many types of engineering and which one I wanted to go into was something I struggled deciding throughout most of high school. However in 2015 I attended a 'Getting Girls into Engineering' open night, in which I was shown several areas of the BAE Systems Warton site and had tours around the Typhoon and Hawk aircraft hangars. The night was very insightful but also left me very intrigued about aerospace engineering and wanting to find out more. This chance was given to me when the applications to the Engineering Taster Week at Warton opened the next year.

What do you remember about the taster week?

The most memorable part of the taster week for me was the project we had to complete throughout the week in teams of five. I was placed in a team with people I had never met before and with different strengths and weaknesses. We had only five days to produce an air force for another country using statistics and information from several sources and then present / pitch our air force on the following Friday. Throughout the project I massively developed my team and time management skills, as well as getting to know new people, some of which I am still in contact with today.

What did you take away from the week and what did you do with what you learned?

The week gave me a massive insight into BAE Systems and all of the opportunities it has to offer. I also learnt about all of the apprenticeships they can provide and the entry requirements needed for each one. As a result, I chose my A-level subjects relevant to this, so I was giving myself the best chance to achieve a place on one of the apprenticeships.

What do you do now?

I am now on the Aerospace Engineering Degree Apprenticeship Scheme (EDAS) at the BAE Systems Preston site. With this five year apprenticeship, I complete a number of five month placements in several areas of the business whilst attending college once a week in order to complete my degree in aerospace engineering. However, before I start these placements, I am currently completing an NVQ where I work in areas such as fitting, electrical and computer-aided design (CAD).

How did the experience help you get where you are now?

Without the taster week I would have had little knowledge in what the business could actually offer me, such as the apprenticeships that also pay for your degree! As well as this I learnt how easy it is to travel within the business; around the UK or the world. From a young age I have always wanted to travel within my job so this was one of the big deal breakers for me.

Have you got any advice for others considering applying for the taster weeks?

My best advice would be to apply to every opportunity BAE Systems offers to help give you an insight into the business. I had no idea what aerospace engineering really was until the taster week, or what BAE Systems really does. But here I am, two years later as an engineering degree apprentice, something I believe I would never have applied for or even known about without the taster week experience.