Daniel Hogg works in Facilities Engineering at BAE Systems Ltd, and is based in Samlesbury, Blackburn. Find out what's involved in his aerospace engineering career

How did you get your job?

While studying for my A-levels in maths, biology, chemistry and psychology with hopes of becoming a dentist, I realised I would much rather go into engineering and start earning while gaining hands-on experience. This is when I joined the BAE Systems engineering apprenticeship scheme.

Since starting at BAE, I've completed an NVQ Level 3 in Engineering Technical Support alongside a BTEC Level 3 (ONC), 4 (HNC) and 5 (HND) in aeronautical engineering. I have also recently started studying for a BEng (Hons) in mechanical maintenance engineering.

What are your working hours?

I'm contracted to work 37 hours a week. At BAE we're employed on flexi-time - we can start anytime from 7am to 10am and leave anytime between 3pm and 6.30pm, as long as we can fit our hours in throughout the week. Workload obviously plays a big part in how much time I spend at work, but I consider myself lucky to be working in a proactive department that is always changing and keeping us busy.

Weekend work is a possibility, but only ever as a last resort.

What does your job involve?

My job is to continuously maintain and improve the competitive position of our manufacturing activities through the development and implementation of new processes, techniques and facilities.

In my role, I have to deal with a range of key stakeholders including operations managers, engineering leads, new capability development leads, materials specialists and application engineers.

I am currently working at our Samlesbury site carrying out works in the New Products and Process development centre, where we're focused on introducing the latest disruptive technologies - technologies designed to shake up the industry - to expand our capabilities as manufacturers.

My role in this involves leading a multi-functional team of workers in operations, finance, procurement, safety, health and environment (SHE), maintenance and facilities management. Our latest implementation is a new 3D printing facility which performs selective laser melting of metal powder to create aircraft components. This facility is brand new, combining contemporary technological equipment with old-style technology, such as a vacuum furnace and wire eroder.

It's an extremely exciting time to be involved in development as we're pushing boundaries and continuing to stay at the forefront of manufacturing advances.

In the future, I'll either be working on new facilities for a potential new platform to be brought to market or supporting our overseas customers to aid with the industrialisation of their countries and advancing their capabilities.

What's your proudest achievement as an aerospace engineer?

During my time as an apprentice I was lucky enough to be nominated for, and go on to win, the North West Aerospace Alliance (NWAA) New Talent award for Best Aerospace and Defence apprentice of the year. It was an honour to have my work recognised, and has opened me up to so many different opportunities - not only at work, but with networking outside of work too. Winning the award has worked wonders for my confidence and I now feel I can successfully tackle any challenge that's thrown at me.

How would you describe the working environment?

I currently work in a team of three engineers, but the broader group consists of about 20. Each of us has different experiences and knowledge, so I'm learning from my colleagues every day. I'm based both indoors and outdoors, depending on the project I'm working on - I'd say I work a 60/40 split of time spent at my desk and in and around the project.

I get to do plenty of travel, whether that's attending exhibitions and events or going to visit a potential supplier as an introductory visit or to test the equipment we are buying. Travel is mainly limited to the UK, although from time to time trips to various parts of Europe and the US are required.

Do you need a license or any specific qualifications to be an aerospace engineer?

At the moment I don't hold any license to carry out my job. However, once I've completed my degree, I'll be looking into progressing onto a Masters with the view of becoming a chartered engineer.

Chartered engineers (CEng) develop solutions to engineering problems using new or existing technologies, or they may be accountable for complex technological systems with significant levels of risk. Becoming chartered will take real dedication and commitment, but it's something I'm passionate about doing.

Where is the aerospace industry heading?

Aerospace engineering is heading in a positive direction especially within the civil market. Predicted growth from the civil market is looking good - particularly from China, which is expected take over the USA as the world's largest aviation market within the next ten years.

Space tourism and a huge focus on passenger luxury are key growth drivers in this industry. Military market spending budgets are on the rise, so we're starting to look at strengthening our current capabilities. As developments and modifications start to take place, especially on multi-role combat aircraft Typhoon, the number of orders being placed with us will only increase. All of this, along with a future aircraft platform which may come to fruition, will secure more jobs for the future.

What advice would you give to hopeful aerospace engineers?

  • If you want to become an aerospace engineer study hard. Take an active interest in understanding the industry and deciding where you see yourself within it.
  • Try to gain work experience within the industry, either through an apprenticeship or graduate scheme.
  • Failure is not an option. Keep working until you get to where you want to be.

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