Case study

Army aircraft maintenance supervisor — Lauren Broadbent

After being interested in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects while at school, Lauren decided to pursue a military aviation career and joined the British Army's Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME)

Tell us about your role and what you do.

I'm a qualified aircraft maintenance supervisor with significant experience on rotary wing and fixed wing Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) within Army aviation.

My role is primarily to ensure that all preventive and corrective maintenance, and associated paperwork is completed safely and accurately in order to uphold the paramount air safety values within the aviation environment.

Along with this, it involves mentoring subordinates within my trade to reinforce their existing knowledge with the experience I've obtained during my time in the Army aviation world.

Why did you join the Army to pursue a STEM career?

During my time in secondary school, I was particularly interested in all the STEM subjects - with a main interest in physics and biology. I was very inquisitive about these subjects and persistently questioned how and why things worked in the way they do.

It was this inquisitiveness that led me to pursue a career in aviation, as I've always been in awe of anything that has been engineered to fly and wished to know exactly how everything operated.

The decision to pursue a military aviation engineering career stemmed from my family background, as several members have been involved within STEM-specific military trades. It was their stories and positive accounts of their time within the Army that had impacted my decision to apply to join.

How did you find the initial training?

It was an incredible experience as I joined at the rather young age of 16. Despite having to adapt rather quickly to very unfamiliar routines and regimes, the exposure to a highly disciplined and physically challenging environment allowed me to build confidence in myself, which benefited me in my day-to-day life. It also allowed me to identify the fact I truly enjoy long distance running.

Is there anything that has surprised you along your journey?

The most significant thing is learning that if you truly set your mind on a goal, and put in the effort and hard work, then you will no doubt achieve it. Adopting the mindset of 'mind over matter' has also helped me to persevere through challenging situations and feel accomplished knowing I overcame these difficult encounters.

In what ways has the Army trained and prepared you for your role?

The Army has instilled in me that leadership and organisational skills are almost paramount in any job role - however, specifically to that of an aircraft technician. The ability to map out a specific plan on how you are going to tackle any faults that may arise on aircraft and how you'll assign manpower to rectify these is a skill that's definitely required.

The exposure we get as technicians at the School of Army Aeronautical Engineering (SAAE) to faults and scenarios is second to none, enhancing our ability to think ahead and make decisions before we've even progressed into the field Army. The quality and delivery of the training has allowed me to successfully progress in my career and pass on this knowledge to my subordinates.

What other opportunities have you got to experience?

Throughout my six years in the Army, I've been given the opportunity to represent the REME in several cross-country and duathlon competitions, which has allowed me to sustain my physical fitness.

There have also been opportunities for adventure training, and I've been caving, static-line parachute jumping, trekking, skiing and kayaking - having the option to attend these subsidised events is a truly unique part of the Army, and one of the most rewarding parts of being in the military.

I've also been deployed to Estonia, which allowed me to experience living in a new country and meet members of the Estonian military in the same role as myself.

What makes training to be an aircraft technician in the Army different?

The greatest difference between training as an aircraft technician in the military as opposed to the civilian world is that you possess the feeling of belonging. As training can vary from anywhere between 12 to 18 months, this allows you to build strong friendships with your colleagues and these continue for the remainder of your career and beyond.

The opportunities and rewards that exist during training encourage enthusiasm within our job, which recognises the hard work of individuals. This helps to develop the quality of engineers that progress into the field Army.

What advice would you give to those thinking of joining the Army to build a STEM career?

As previously mentioned, adopting the 'mind over matter' attitude will allow you to maintain the mental stamina you'll require to achieve your goals within the STEM environment. STEM related careers are one of the most rewarding careers you could follow, even though they are a challenge. If you've a genuine interest in any STEM subject, then you'll flourish in the Army environment. The ability to encourage and promote this career path to aspiring young people is also a highly rewarding feeling - knowing you're going to give those individuals an insight into where they could be heading in the future.

What's the working culture like in the Army?

It's one that is certainly unique to the Army, as every single member is promoting optimum team cohesion, which certainly creates an exuberant working environment.

The greatest part of the working culture is feeling part of a very inclusive, close-knit team that you feel comfortable sharing potential issues with, and knowing that you'll be supported in every type of situation.

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