Last day noooo!
Selex Galileo (they make radar systems)
I am a very happy person, I love to travel and explore.
I live with my partner, in Bristol but I am originally from Scotland. I go to Scotland quite often to see family and friends, the countryside where my parents live is really lovely.
I like going fast. Usually I walk fast because I’m always late for things (!) but I like to cycle and ski fast too. That feeling that you get when your eyes are watering is amazing. My friends laugh at me because I naturally run up and down stairs, because to walk I have to really concentrate.
I’ve not always been interested in planes, but the more I learn about the engineering inside aircraft engines, the more interested I become. A work colleague of mine said the other day that the larger your island of knowledge, the bigger the coastline of uncertainty… so basically, the more you learn, the more you see there is to learn! And it’s really interesting stuff. One day I would like to get a pilots license so I can go off on little flying adventures…
I design parts for aeroplane engines and calculate how long they will last in an engine – they are made from really special materials called ‘single crystals’.
I work for a company called Rolls-Royce. You might have heard of really expensive Rolls-Royce motor cars, but I work with aeroplane engines. If you have been on holiday in an aeroplane, you might have travelled on an aeroplane that I have worked on. Have you heard of the ‘red arrows’ aeroplane display team? I’ve worked on those engines too! There are hundreds of engineers that work on each engine though, it really is a team effort to keep people safe in the sky.
I mostly work with engine design, which means changing things inside the engine to make them use less fuel or make less noise, but I’ve had loads of other jobs too. The variety in my job is one of the things I like most about it. Here is a team that I project managed to design and make a piece of equipment to test a piece inside an engine. You can see that I’m not the tallest person in my office!
There’s sometimes travelling involved in my work too – I’ve worked in Canada, the Czech Republic, and most recently, I travel to Sweden regularly as I’m working on a new design there.
Have you heard about Bloodhound? It’s a car being designed in the UK to reach 1000mph in an attempt to break the world landspeed record. Inside the Bloodhound car is also a Rolls-Royce jet engine. I’m involved in this project too, as a Bloodhound STEM ambassador. This means I go to schools, just like yours, and get excited about science, technology, engineering and maths by building rocket cars and firing them across the playground.
My Typical Day
I make sketches and drawings and talk to other people in my team to make improvements to the engine design.
The first thing I do in the working day is make a coffee and get some flapjack. Very important that.
Currently I work in an office and a typically I will have a list of problems in my design that need solved. Engineering is a lot about problem solving, and aeroplane engines are really quite complicated, so there’s plenty of work for me to do. The bit I’m designing right now is a turbine blade, this is a metal component inside the really hot bit of the engine called the turbine.
So, for example, I might have a bit of information telling me I need part of the blade to be less than 1100 degrees Celsius on the surface (that’s four times as hot as you would cook a pizza in the oven!). I will apply my knowledge of coatings and phone up material specialists around the company to decide what the best combination of materials for the coating is.
A ‘bondcoat’ is needed to ‘bond’, or help stick the coating to the blade surface, and a top coat is needed to keep the blade metal temperature cool. I will then talk with the coating manufacturer to understand what their capabilities are. I need to make sure that my design can actually be made, so selecting and talking with world-class manufacturers is important. The next part is modelling the material and thickness on the blade and running a simulation (so adding the temperature and speeds on a computer model to predict what will happen in a real engine) to decide how thick the coating needs to be to get the blade temperature down to 1100C.
There’s a number of things we can do in turbine blade engineering to keep the blades cool, not just the coating. So it’s a bit like a big puzzle, and my job is to apply logic, sketch ideas and talk to lots of people to make sure we get the best and most robust solution.
I work directly with quite a small team of people to design the blade, there’s a cooling engineer, two stress engineers, two modellers, an aerofoil designer, sub-systems designer, functional integrator and someone who makes a project plan. But indirectly, there’s probably around 30 or 40 other people spread over the world that I will talk to on a day to day basis.
What I'd do with the money
I will spend the money on a water maker. I will make videos of how the water maker works and run events in schools to demonstrate engineering problem solving. The water maker will also be used on my boat in a televised rowing race – 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean.
So, I told you that I love adventures and being outside. I have entered a rowing race across the Atlantic Ocean, and need your help to decide how to make fresh water. The watermaker is an important piece of equipment for the race because you need fresh water to survive the long distance.
As part of my rowing race campaign, I’m getting schools involved and will be running social media videos to show you how bits on the boat work and what decisions need to be made when deciding what to have on the boat. It’s very similar to my engineering job!
The best bit is that the race will be televised and I’d like to use that to promote more science and research, and maybe even get some schools involved in test rows in Bristol.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Adventurous, friendly, curious.
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
I designed a turbine blade that has now being put into an aeroplane engine. It’s going to be tested next year. And one day, this technology will be in aeroplane engines that you’ll take to go on holidays abroad.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes – paper aeroplanes were just too tempting to make in class.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I would probably build boats.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Slept under the stars beside camels in the desert while on a cycling adventure.
Tell us a joke.
Hedgehogs. Why can’t they just share the hedge?