My time at BAE systems was an interesting experience. I was
based in the engineering department, specifically the design, software, CONOPS
and performance sectors. I only managed to brush over the basics in my short
week there but the run down is this….
The design sector taught me and my fellow pupils how the
design software is manipulated to form a plane’s wing. I was given a set of
instructions that I worked through like a computer program. It took me an hour
to fully complete my design of the wing and most of the time was spent on
learning how to control the design software.
The CONOPS sector taught me how planes are envisaged and how
they are thought of and then designed. CONOPS is where the customers’
requirements of the product have to be taken care of. These requirements can be
anything from what colour it has to be, to what fuel the plane has to use.
These requirements then must be encompassed into the design. Once a design has
been made they then check the design against the customer requirements then the
cycle repeats and repeats until there is a finished design.
The software sector. This was perhaps one of the trickier
subjects. Again, the software has to live up to customer requirements. This
means checking and working on the software for years. Firstly, they have to
devise the software systems; then they have to check them to see if they can
handle any sort of situation. The computer system has to know how to
communicate with every piece of technology on the plane from the array of
sensors to the complex weapon systems. This makes the software one of the most
tested systems on the plane; it has to do everything and know everything about
the plane. But the software engineers don’t just create the software they then
figure out how to display it to the pilot whether it needs a warning on a
screen to tell him/her or whether it’s more of a huge flashing light situation.
The final piece of experience we gained was on performance
of aircraft. This is how they predict and work out how planes will fly. Again,
they need to have customer requirements in mind as not every plane needs to fly
the same way; passenger planes have to fly fast
and long distance than typhoons need to fly incredibly fast (near mach 2) and
be agile. I studied fuel systems. I worked out how much fuel is needed for a
set route taking in several factors like the constant speed , distance, constant
speed at altitude and type of engine.
Overall my time at BAE was an unforgettable trip and I would
recommend it to anyone interested in engineering. I learnt some great things
and got incredible experience of what it’s like to be an engineer at BAE and
how you are a small cog in this huge machine to produce a single, but complex,
By Alex Hill