Georgina's diary entry - May 2011

Live missile firing and extreme environmental condition testing has kept Georgina busy of late. With her series of placements coming to an end, she has to now choose which department she will work for permanently.

Georgina Harper

Since I last wrote I have finished my placement in the customer support services department and have had the opportunity to go to the Hebrides for two weeks to work and witness a live firing. This has to be the most exciting thing I have done since joining MBDA in 2008.

When in the Hebrides my job was to record the firing by both video and signal input and output. Whilst doing this, my colleagues were watching to ensure everything went ok, taking notes and listening out for the warhead at the end.

The site in the Hebrides is really big, with buildings such a distance away from each other that it was a car journey to communicate to people face to face. Otherwise communication needs to be done over the radio.

Feeling the ground shaking

I was mainly situated in two buildings. The first was where all the army officers sit to indicate when it is safe for the product to be fired and it is a good building for viewing the firing itself. The other building I was working in was right next to the kit and was a concrete bunker.

I preferred this one because even though you were watching the product on a television screen, you could feel the motion of the product due to the floor shaking when it took off and the rippling noise it made when coming off the launcher.

Environmental testing

Now back down south, I have started my latest placement, which is in the environmental testing department. Here they have special facilities where they are able to test the products we make, their containers, and even the transportation that carries the products through the dessert, snow, and bumpy conditions etc. Tests include looking at extreme heat, extreme cold, vibration, and drop tests.

I have been here for a month and have had some varied jobs, including milling and drilling blocks which are attached to an expensive piece of kit known as an accelerometer. I have been able to re-wire the vibrating machines at the mains and fan machines used in most cold air tests.  

Studying HNC and HND

I am still studying at college one day a week towards my HNC, and will start my second year of studying this September. Then finally I will be studying my HND, which is six units added onto the subjects of my HNC.

Choosing a permanent placement

The series of placements is coming to an end soon, so I am now concentrating on choosing the department that I would like to work in as a permanent employee next January. Out of all the placements I have been part of so far, it’s really hard to split them into categories in which I enjoyed but couldn’t see myself working their and ones where I can see myself working in.

Find out what department Georgina chooses in her next diary entry, which will be on the IET Student and Apprentice website this October.