Rob Edmunds: Aerospace engineer and QEPrize Ambassador
From solar planes to a reinvented air-ship, we have scoured the skies this month to bring you the most exciting and innovative engineering news from the aerospace industry.
As we come to the end of our aerospace month, we spoke to QEPrize Ambassador and aerospace engineer, Rob Edmunds, to get a first-hand look at what it’s really like on the inside.
Rob, tell us about your journey so far, and how you have arrived at a career in aerospace engineering.
I suppose it started back at school, when I chose to do a National Diploma in engineering (Design and Technology), rather than take A-levels. Through this I developed a good background in many different aspects of engineering, from civil and mechanical, to structural and electrical. But it was the electronics that I really loved and I went on to study for an MEng in Electronic Engineering at Cardiff University. As part of my degree I did an industrial placement year, something that I highly recommend. I applied to a number of different sectors including TV, Communication and Defence and decided that working for Leonardo at Luton (then the Avionics division of BAE Systems), was the best option for me.I was keen to work for a big company as I knew this would give me opportunities to learn and grow as an engineer and Leonardo offered a very good graduate scheme, which was something I was looking to join post university. Following my year in industry, the company gave me a bursary to go back to university for my third year and asked me back for a summer placement between years 3 & 4. They gave me another bursary for my final year and then offered me an unconditional graduate job more than 6 month before I had even finished my degree. I didn’t hesitate, I signed the paperwork and I’ve been at Leonardo and in the aerospace industry ever since.
You currently work with Leonardo, what does this entail on a day-today basis?
Having joined Leonardo back in 2007 as a graduate, I have held a number of positions since then including one outside of engineering. I am currently a Project Engineering Lead within Engineering Business Winning. That means I am the technical point of contact for all Electronic Warfare Operation Support proposals. I am responsible for ensuring that the engineering risk, timescales and cost are all at an acceptable level for the business. I lead a multidisciplinary team of engineers, pulling together the engineering effort from across the functions and any partner companies both in the UK and around the world.
The engineering world is a tough place to be sometimes. What would you say you are most proud of achieving so far in this industry?
On a personal level, my biggest achievement was becoming a Chartered Engineer (CEng) back in 2013. I’m a strong believer in the value and importance of getting professionally registered as an engineer and it is something I started working towards as soon as I graduated. Since getting registered, I have been leading the development of the company’s UK wide Professional Development – Scheme for Engineers & Technicians (PD-SET) and was responsible for getting the scheme accredited by the Institute of Engineering & Technology (IET), Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), Institution of Physics (IOP) and the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) last year. Professional registration is a globally recognised qualification and demonstrates that you have both the theoretical knowledge and practical experience required.
What is the most exciting thing you get to do in your job?
In previous roles, I would definitely say it was knowing that the firmware I designed is out there flying around on the Eurofighter and other platforms, protecting the pilots and making sure they come home to their families and friends. In my current role it is hard to state one thing, but I love engaging with our customers to understand how we can help them, and leading my team to develop innovative solutions.In addition to this, I do enjoy the opportunity to get out to do STEM activities. Earlier this month I was a judge at the IET Faraday Challenge Day National Final and the week before I was at Watford Boys School telling them about what a fantastic career engineering is.
As well as getting involved in STEM activities, you’re also a QEPrize Engineering Ambassador. Is there anything you would say to other young engineers considering becoming an Ambassador for the prize?
Do it! It is an opportunity to give something back and encourage others to follow in your footsteps. Additionally, the opportunities it has given me have been fantastic. As an Ambassador, I was invited to the 2015 QEPrize Awards Ceremony, attended “In Conversation with Juergen Maier” the Chief Executive of Siemens UK, and I was involved with the “We Are Engineers” campaign. It has been a great opportunity for me to network with other engineers in the field and I have learnt a great deal as a result.
As a STEM Ambassador and an Ambassador for the QEPrize you get to engage with young people to see first-hand their views on engineering. Do you think prizes such as the QEPrize can encourage and motivate young people to take up the engineering challenges of the future?
I believe that prizes and awards, such as the QEPrize, do help to promote engineering generally. They help to demonstrate the diversity of what engineering really is and provide an opportunity to promote engineering via the media to the general public. The introduction of the QEPrize has generated a buzz similar to the Nobel Prize and hopefully this will continue to grow as more and more engineering achievements are acknowledged by the award in the years to come.
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