1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I spent one week in the design engineering team at GKN Aerospace. Since I was just a work experience student, and because it is an extremely technical job, I was unable to take on huge amounts of responsibility. The team was relatively small, and I spent the week at my own desk with the same group of 5 design and stress engineers. I spent the majority of my time shadowing engineers, learning more about their roles, asking questions and hearing more about their day to day work and projects. I was also able to attend various meetings, both for the design team, and one with an outside client providing resin bonding solutions the team were looking into purchasing for a project. My day-to-day activity felt incredibly varied considering the short length of my stay.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
During my time I was able to have a go on the CATIA computer software. This was invaluable to me as it is expensive and unavailable to me outside of work experience placements, so any chance to get practical experience using it is great. At first, I was provided with the team's CATIA training manual, which I was able to work through at my own pace in order to get to grips with the basics and with performing certain sketching and modelling tasks. I was then given the task to take thickness and joggle measurements across the length of a wing spar on CATIA.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
My time with the design team, although incredibly short, was very enjoyable and I feel I have come away inspired and having learnt a lot. Each member of the team was incredibly welcoming and easy to talk to, allowing me to feel comfortable quickly and able to ask questions. In this regard the experience exceeded my expectations, and I have come away with some really valuable contacts I feel comfortable contacting regarding job opportunities in the future.
4. How valued do you feel by GKN?
As I was on work experience, and only there for a one-week placement, I was unable to perform any major tasks that would add notable value to the company. However, within the space of a day I was trusted with basic CATIA tasks and basic calculations, having never used the software before. The fact I was given this responsibility so quickly made me feel as though I was reliable and that the team were doing their best to include me.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The week I spent on-site was reasonably well-structured. The nature of my application for the week was relatively short and quick - I had a contact from GKN Aerospace who I contacted regarding a possible 1 or 2 weeks of work experience, and just 3 weeks later I started. Given the late nature of this arrangement the team perhaps had not had time to prepare a fully-structured week for me, however were clearly willing to include and support me when I arrived.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
As I was just a work experience student, and as I was only spending a week at the office, I did not have an official training provider and as such am unfortunately unable to provide a direct answer for this question. However, I did have the chance to speak with a student on their summer placement, who seemed really satisfied with the amount of support she was receiving for her role.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
As a work experience placement, I was not formally employed by GKN Aerospace and as such am unable to provide a constructive answer for this question. For students however, I do have that experience. Having spent a week under the Design and Stress Lead Engineer, performing basic tasks and shadowing team members, I strongly felt that everybody I spoke with had a genuine interest in helping me learn more and get as much out of the week as I possibly could.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
The work experience week was an unpaid placement, more for my learning benefit that to add value to the company. I am aware, however, that the company run numerous summer and year-long placement schemes that offer a competitive salary.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
The design engineering team work long days in the office, and as such there isn't too much going on outside of work from a day-to-day view. However, the company do support outreach activities and initiatives such as 'Formula Student' and the 6-month Headstart 'EDT Engineering Education Scheme', so I imagine there is ample opportunity to get involved in these sorts of programmes. As a placement student however these opportunites would be more limited.
9. Would you recommend GKN to a friend?
The projects the design engineers were working on, or had had the chance to work on, were all really interesting, innovative and varied. The chance to work for GKN would mean a chance to become more involved in these projects and learn more about upcoming technologies. The chance for travel with with also is an appealing element of the job.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to GKN?
As I did not go through an application process for this placement, I feel I am unable to answer this question directly. However, during the week I did have the chance to sit with the HR officer and talk, regarding tips and information on the year in industry application process. Key points I had noted down were firstly the ability to demonstrate a real passion for the role you're applying for - through partaking in both academic and extra-curricular activities relevant to the role.