UK Government’s See Inside Manufacturing scheme gives more young people an insight into a career in aerospace today
GKN Aerospace welcomed twenty-one students from two schools into their manufacturing facility at Filton recently to see how the company’s technology is helping to make aircraft fly further, more quietly and with lower emissions – making them more environmentally friendly than ever before.
The visit by the Bristol Free School, Bristol and Broadlands School, Keynsham was organised as part of the Government’s ongoing ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ (SIM) initiative which is aimed at transforming young people’s perceptions of manufacturing. Across GKN Aerospace, these visits are giving students, their teachers and careers advisors a unique, behind-the-scenes glimpse of the highly competitive, high-tech, world of aircraft design and manufacture.
At Filton the youngsters saw how a team works together on major aircraft projects. They watched the manufacture of the 40 meter-long wing trailing edges for the huge A380 passenger airliner. These structures – half as long again as a wing trailing edge for more typical airliners such as the A330 and A340 – are manufactured with an allowance of just one tenth of a millimeter over their entire 40m length.
The group also saw ‘additive manufacturing’ technologies that are currently in development and heard how these will revolutionise future aircraft design. They gained an understanding of how important the company expects innovative young engineering minds to be in successfully evolving these game-changing processes.
Throughout the day the students had a number of opportunities to talk to some of GKN Aerospace’s current apprentices and young engineers, hearing about the experiences these new recruits have already had in the early stages of their careers.
During the afternoon the students were challenged with building a model aircraft. Each school was split into separate teams, the activity required them to create their supply chain, buy the parts they needed and then assemble the aircraft in the most efficient manner possible. The winners were given a bag of goodies from the company!
Judith Sparks, Training and Development Manager, GKN Aerospace Filton, explained: “This is an exceptionally exciting time in the aerospace industry – and across manufacturing – with much to achieve and many innovations coming through that will fundamentally change the way we design and make everything in the future. At the same time we face a shortage of technically qualified people with the skills we need. We must break down the negative perceptions and prejudices that remain about engineering as a career and allow young people to make an informed decision based on a real understanding of today’s engineering environment. SIM forms a key element in our broader relationship with local schools and colleges and gives us an invaluable means to reach young people directly and pass on our enthusiasm to them.”
SIM is now in its third year in the aerospace sector. Since its inception GKN Aerospace has used the campaign to bring students into its sites and the company’s participation has grown year on year. This year, for the first time, all seven of the company’s UK sites are hosting SIM visits with Filton alone hosting four visits in 2014.
The Filton site employs approx. 1,800 of the GKN Aerospace’s worldwide total of 12,000 staff and is a global market leader in the design and manufacture of aerostructures and aircraft components.
Photo caption: GKN Apprentice Patryk Harwes, centre, watches students assemble a model aircraft. From left: Calum Norman (13), Antoine Sclater (11), Kieran Waters (13) and Oliver Bullock (13)