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Graduate Engineer, Rolls-Royce plc

MEng Mechanical Engineering (2015)

I have completed about 7 months of the Rolls-Royce Graduate Engineering programme. This scheme consists of 3 'attachments', where you work in different areas of the business, that are each at least 4 months long and also a group engineering task that lasts 10 weeks. During my first attachment I worked within the turbine stress team where I looked at parts that had been operated in service; this was in order to look at their deterioration and to try and improve them in the future. Currently in my second placement, I am working on the futuristic composite fan blades; the team I'm working with are trying to improve the blade so that its introduction to the engines is as smooth as possible.

How has your career developed since graduating from the University of Birmingham?

I only graduated from the University in 2015 so I haven't really been away for long! I have, however, gained a lot of engineering experience in a short time on the graduate scheme at Rolls-Royce and I have started working myself towards chartership with the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

What is the best thing about what you are doing now?

Currently I really enjoy working with the composite blades as it is such a new technology, for Rolls-Royce anyway, that the room for development is huge. It is also encouraging to know that the work I am doing now will affect a whole new generation of engines and be used for a long time in the future.

What motivates you either in your personal or professional life?

At work I am motivated by the knowledge that my work, and the work of those around me, is helping to improve everyday lives and to reduce the impact that engineering products have on the environment.

Why did you originally apply to Birmingham?

If I'm honest I didn't initially have Birmingham at the top of my list for university applications. My friend from college was going to Birmingham for the Open Day and offered me a lift; I knew Birmingham had a good Mechanical Engineering School so I took up the offer. At the Open Day I was inspired by the facilities and the staff in Mechanical Engineering. I knew I wanted to get involved with Formula Student and the facilities at Birmingham were clearly excellent, this strongly influenced my decision to make Birmingham my first choice! As well as this I couldn't help but be mesmerised by the wonderful campus and it's red-brick buildings. On a more practical note, both the halls of residence and Selly Oak (where most students move to after their first year) were in very close proximity to the campus.

What are your fondest memories of the University?

Where to start? I have many fond memories of my time in Birmingham but here are just a couple. Throughout my 4 years at I played, and was later a committee member, for the Engineering Rugby Team. I had some wonderful memories from both the playing and social sides. Playing on the Bournbrook pitches on the University campus in front of hundreds of people really was a thrill! The one memory that stands out for me though is, after months of hard work and late nights to get our car ready, finishing the Formula Student UK endurance event at Silverstone. I had designed the drive train for the car and the release of tension and emotion when the car finally finished was something I have never experienced anywhere else!

How did you grow as a person by coming to University?

I'm sure that everybody completely changes as a person whilst they are at university, and I was no exception. You learn to become independent and to look after yourself; you also have a bit more freedom to do what you want, but this takes organisation. University readies most people for a life after education and helps you get a great start to life in the big wide world.

What did you think of the learning experience within the University?

The Mechanical Engineering department at Birmingham is renowned for delivering a high quality course and I found this to be true during my time studying there. During each year I completed a mixture of both theoretical and practical learning; this was complimented by my time in the Formula Student lab. My learning at Birmingham gave me a great knowledge-base that I am now using in my career and I am also building upon now I am in industry. I find the work that I did within the "Professional Engineering" modules to be of the most value now I'm actually working within engineering.

What inspired you most during your time as a student?

The work I did with the UBRacing Formula Student team really does stand out at the most inspiring part of my time in Birmingham. It gave me experience of a real-world engineering project and helped me develop as an engineer indefinitely. Formula Student also gave me an insight of how to deal with suppliers and customers.

What advice would you give to current students studying on your degree programme?

Take as many opportunities available to you as possible, make the most of your time at the University and try to plan ahead in order to get the job you deserve when you graduate.

If, like Matthew, you would like to share your story please complete our online profile form or email us on eps-community@contacts.bham.ac.uk