Case study

Engineering graduate trainee — Darcy Belton

Darcy made the most of her internship at Rolls Royce and managed to secure a place on the graduate scheme once she had finished her aeronautical engineering degree

How did you get your job?

I applied for an internship with Rolls-Royce between the third and fourth years of my MEng in Aeronautical Engineering at Loughborough University. To apply, I filled in an online form and took psychometric tests in numerical and logical reasoning. I was invited to an assessment centre where I had to complete two interviews, a numerical reasoning test and a group activity. After finishing my internship I was asked if I would like to return on the graduate scheme.

How relevant is your aeronautical degree to your job?

I currently use a lot of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) in my role which is something I learned a lot about at university. Having the background knowledge of how CFD works and experience with a couple of programs has helped me to pick up the in house software that we use very quickly. At university I took a module on gas turbine design which I use every day when looking at fan design. I'd already covered a lot of the theory I needed to learn when starting this role which allowed me to progress quickly and move on to the more practical elements of the tasks I was given.

In addition to the CFD I also use quite a lot of the fluid mechanics modules that I studied to make sure the results the CFD gives me make sense.

What are your main work activities?

I've worked in three different departments so far on the graduate scheme. In my last I spent around 50% of my time on the shop floor running tests on two machines and the other 50% of my time in the office running meetings and planning work.

My current attachment is a lot more design based, I spend a lot more time looking at ways to alter parameters affecting fan blade design and running CFD to see how my changes affect the blade performance. I also use a lot of programming so there's a lot of different software to become familiar with. Similarly to my previous attachment I still have to set up and attend a lot of meetings to inform people about the work I'm doing.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

As I've become more experienced on the graduate scheme I've taken on roles with more responsibility. During my last role I was a team leader and was responsible for running part of a project, setting up and running meetings and delivering work to tight deadlines to support the project. I found that this was something I enjoy so I'm now looking at applying to start a leadership scheme after I finish my current graduate attachments.

One of my long term ambitions is to become a chartered engineer; I'm working towards this at the moment with the support of my professional mentor.

What do you enjoy about your job?

One of the best things about my job is the opportunity to go and see lots of hardware and engines in assembly. It's very helpful as a designer to be able to go and see the parts that you're responsible for designing and how they interact with other components in the engine. It's also very useful to see how they will be assembled and if you as a designer can make assembly easier.

I've worked on a few components that have now been incorporated into engines in service and it's very cool to know that bits that I've helped to design are flying around on planes out there.

What are the most challenging parts?

The main challenge is working with such a complex product. There are so many components that make up a gas turbine engine and they all interact with each other that a design change to improve one component might change the behaviour of others. It's a challenge to think through how the changes you introduce will affect the whole engine and decide whether there might be a better way to improve the design.

Another challenge is the highly technical nature of the work. My university degree gave me a good starting point and lots of background knowledge but working with such advanced technology means there’s always a lot more to learn.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

  • Internships are a great route into a company because they give you a chance to experience exactly what working for a company in a graduate role would be like.
  • Ask questions and don't be afraid to make suggestions, sometimes the solution to a problem will come from an area that no one else though to consider.
  • Keep up to date with the latest developments in technology in the areas that interest you most.

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