What made you interested in attending taster weeks?
Unlike most applicants to the Engineering Taster Weeks, I was already enroute to university to study Engineering when I took part in the week.
I'd applied for my courses through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) in year 13, having started my A-levels in Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics and Economics at college. The decision hadn't been easy as I'd contemplated studying Economics or Politics instead. Although I had decided on my route through university, I'd had little prior experience in industry and wanted to complement and enhance my studies with some outside professional development: the BAE Systems Taster Weeks offered just that opportunity.
A family friend that worked at BAE Systems had heard about the scheme and mentioned it in a passing conversation, leading me to start my application the same evening. Upon completion of my A-level exams, I attended one of the Systems Engineering Taster Weeks at Warton whilst anxiously awaiting my results.
What do you remember about the taster week?
The Taster Week was packed with talks, tours and project work which kept me and the other students busy for the entirety of the five days. Tours around some of the facilities at Warton helped to demonstrate the advanced capabilities at Warton site, whilst talks from Engineers from across the business gave an insight into the people behind the products.
The initial tour around the Eurofighter Typhoon Final Assembly hangar provided a memorable opening day, whilst my first visit to the Wind Tunnel and Electronic Warfare facilities helped to cement my fascination in the Aerospace sector. The week culminated in a group presentation in front of family members and BAE Systems employee's; relaying all that we had learnt from the week as well as our solution to the engineering project.
What did you take away from the week and what did you do with what you learned?
Completion of the Taster Week confirmed my decision to enroll on an Aerospace Systems course at University. From then on I proceeded into Higher Education with the intent to apply to the Engineering Sponsorship Programme at BAE Systems during my first year and progress my industrial development through a complimentary mix of study and work experience.
The Taster Weeks gave me my first real interview process and led to my first major presentation, helping to develop transferable, professional skills that could translate into any workplace. Opportunities to work as part of a team on a challenging and topical engineering project enabled me to gain an insight into the operations of a large multinational engineering company.
What do you do now?
Upon completion of the Engineering Taster Week, I enrolled at the University of Glasgow on the MEng Aerospace Systems degree course. During my first year at university I applied for the Engineering Sponsorship Programme at BAE Systems.
This internship provides a number of summer placements and a year-long industrial placement throughout my degree, along with bursaries to support me through my education. To date I have completed placements in Support Solution Integration, Weapon Systems Integration, Typhoon Design Support and Air Vehicle Systems. These placements have been across multiple stages of the engineering lifecycle and within different aircraft programs and engineering disciplines, allowing me to develop as a professional engineer whilst applying techniques learned at university to contribute to the advancement of contracts in the business.
How did the experience help you get where you are now?
Prior to completing the Taster Week I had little knowledge of the processes used in the engineering industry and couldn’t comprehend the scale of work required to design, manufacture and support an aircraft fleet. The Taster Weeks led directly to my application for the Engineering Sponsorship Programme, which in turn will lead on to graduate opportunities at the company.
The Engineering Taster Weeks enabled me to interact with the undergraduate engineers that had organised the taster weeks and helped to drive me to plan my career progression from the moment I started at university. This small boost vastly expanded the diversity and experience displayed on my CV and helped to provide a strong base for my undergraduate application.
Have you got any advice for others considering applying for the taster weeks?
Whether you are set on a career in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) subject or have yet to decide, I’d encourage you to apply: to develop key transferable skills for future career progression and to help inform a decision about Higher Education and/or Apprenticeships. I’d advise anyone considering on applying to put across not just their interest in STEM subjects but their ability to communicate and work as part of a team. Extracurricular activities and voluntary work outside of academia will stand you in good stead and help to present a range of transferable skills applicable to the engineering industry as well as other professions. Gaining as much ‘Science Capital’ whilst in education will help to develop and realise any aspirations you may have in STEM fields.