New Bristol Academy students see how GKN Aerospace ‘makes things fly’

Published on: 21st October 2013

• Local MP joins students to see UK Government’s ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ in action

GKN Aerospace welcomed sixteen students from the Bristol Technology and Engineering (BTE) Academy into their state of the art manufacturing facility at Western Approach on Wednesday, 16th October, 2013.  They were joined by Jack Lopresti, MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke, to get a unique, behind-the-scenes glimpse of the world of high-tech aircraft design and manufacturing as part of the UK government’s See Inside Manufacturing scheme.  
‘See Inside Manufacturing’ is an initiative aimed at encouraging young people to consider engineering as an exciting career choice.  The youngsters spent the day at the company’s facility where they joined the team working on the manufacture of the innovative all-composite carbon fibre wing spars for the Airbus A350 XWB airliner and the A400M military freighter aircraft.
They then saw the state of the art automated assembly facility where the company brings together the complete fixed trailing edge for the wing of the A350 XWB and took part in an exercise, organised by current second year apprentices at the company, where they manufactured a composite panel from carbon fibre tape.
Students had a valuable opportunity to talk to apprentices and engineers only a few years older than themselves about their experiences since joining the company. 
Steve Colebrook, General Manager of GKN Aerospace – Western Approach explained: “We want to encourage the next generation of talented engineers, designers and apprentices in the UK. We are facing a significant shortage of technically qualified people with the vital skills our industrial base needs for the future and we need to work with schools, the government and our industry partners to change the perception of today’s manufacturing environment amongst young people. Initiatives such as this give us a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate how fulfilling and challenging a career with leading engineering company such as GKN Aerospace can be.”
Rhian Priest, Principal of the BTE Academy commented: ”Our students have once again benefited for an invaluable insight into industry.  Thanks to the on-going support and involvement of GKN Aerospace, students can directly see where their learning can lead to.  Benefiting from an insight into this specialist area of aircraft engineering is invaluable to our students. Our partnership with GKN Aerospace is highly beneficial in inspiring our students and demonstrating theory in action.”

GKN Aerospace’s Western Approach site employs approximately 260 of the GKN Aerospace’s worldwide total of 12,000 staff and is a world leader in the design and manufacture of complex carbon fibre structures for aircraft wings.

Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy (BTE Academy) is a new University Technical College (UTC) that opened in September 2013 in Stoke Gifford, just north of Bristol, England. The University of the West of England and City of Bristol College are the lead academic sponsors of the UTC, and Airbus and GKN Aerospace are the lead business sponsors.

GKN Aerospace apprentice Ashley Beck right, explaining how a carbon fibre spar is made to students from the Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy, during their visit to the GKN Aerospace factory at Western Approach as part of the ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ event. Among those pictured are Jack Lopresti, MP, right, and apprentice Jacob Taylor, left.