Georgina Harper - Spring 2010 diary entry

Georgina talks about her latest placement, where she’s got a huge variety of hands-on experience under her belt.

Georgina Harper

In January I started in my third placement; MAIT, also known as manufacturing engineering. I was moved around different sections that were based in different buildings on site. The first section I worked in for five weeks was calibration and maintenance, where I got to work with both the mechanical and electrical equipment ensuring that they passed their calibration. 

To do this I had to follow different processes that applied to the equipment and if the equipment passed the calibration tests I would then replace their calibration date to a year later, if not I would fix the appliance and re-test to ensure it then passed the calibration.

Within this placement I was working on metrology. This was using a theodolite, which is a piece of equipment used for re-alignment. Theodilites are used to ensure that all targets are in-line as they use collimated light to be able to align cross hares with each other and to the target. I learnt that to do calibration and maintenance precision is everything, and without it, the results and the test can be completely wrong.

Using a variety of equipment

Also within my time in MAIT I had a placement in ERDF another area of manufacturing engineering. Here I got to use the engraving machine. To do this I had to create the project sent to me on a piece of drawing software and once I had completed re-drawing the design I then linked up to the machine where I engraved the drawing on a Perspex sheet. Once completed I then used industrial paints to outline what each part symbolised.

Hardcore testing

In MAIT I was able to test the FAS (fin actuator systems) units. Within this task I had to remove it from a set unit and place it on what’s known as the crucifix. This is a cross in which the FAS unit is placed and tightened onto using various types of clamps. This then enables us to run tests such as torque tests, running high current and volts through it and moving the fins as they would be used once launched.

After doing tests on the crucifix I then placed the FAS units into the environmental section in which the fin actuator system was then tested to extreme limits to ensure it would last the full ten years, this included vibration tests, temperature tests and a mixture of both. 

The FAS unit would be dropped to -40 degrees Centigrade (C) once this is completed and the temperature was settled I would then programme each fin to move ten degrees in both directions to observe if the fins were still mobile at this temperature. This was also done at 60 C degrees as well as vibration.   

Variety wins

Overall I think this placement was really good as every day the work was different, with different challenges to overcome and yet it was still really interesting. The people in each department were extremely easy to get on with and never minded you asking questions or seeking guidance.

Long hours

If I had to think of a low point to this placement it would be the hours worked, due to the fact I start work at 7.30am every morning and some nights I’d be staying till 6pm to complete a job or a test as there was no suitable time to stop.