Kirkham Grammar School

Independent Co-Educational Day and Boarding School

Kirkham Grammar School Content Area

A Small Cog in a Big Machine

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, product.

 

By Alex Hill