MBDA apprentices organise Farnborough event

Twenty-two MBDA apprentices came together to successfully organise and manage the company’s Farnborough International Airshow presence this summer.

MBDA apprentices at Farnborough International Airshow Although the sun was rare this July, MBDA apprentices had the opportunity to shine when they managed the company’s corporate stand at the Farnborough International Airshow 2012’s innovation tent.

For every Farnborough Airshow, the latest intake of apprentices are asked to manage the company’s presence, which is a stand predominantly aimed at children and teenagers who have an interest in electronic engineering. Their role is to plan the construction, equipment and manning requirements for the stand as well as arrange appropriate activities for the visitors to carry out.

The work involved

“I helped co-ordinate the event, organising hotel bookings, transport, organising passes for the attendees and ensuring the attendees knew where they were meant to be at all times,” says MBDA apprentice Jody Patrick. “I also organised a day trip to the air show for local school children to get them involved with science and technology during the Futures Day. This involved liaising with local schools, booking coaches and organising on site security and MBDA employees to attend and co-ordinate on the day.”

“At the show my roles varied from working on MBDA's soldering activities to badge making,” continues apprentice Lee Bibby. “During this time I taught children, teenagers and adults to solder, whilst educating them about how we implement electronics engineering in our company.

“For the activities we used purpose-built small circuit boards that functionally tested a fuse or measure the power of a battery. This allowed the public to take home something they can use,” he says.

Positive feedback

All the feedback from the event was very positive, with lots of MBDA employees commenting that they were very proud of what the apprentices had achieved. Members of the public were also impressed, commenting on the apprentices’ efficiency, knowledge and attitude.

“I think it’s because throughout the planning of the event, we were looking for new ways to interact with people,” explains apprentice Jess Schroder. “A few years ago it was realised that badge making is an excellent way (to do so) as it is a quick but interactive hands-on experience.

“Recently we have started doing soldering as well. I haven’t seen anyone else at events doing soldering, and a lot of younger people have never attempted soldering or electronics before, so it is a new experience for them that gives them a sense of achievement when they see their product work,” she enthuses.

New skills gained

The apprentices feel they personally gained a lot from being involved, including improving some useful career skills.

“I believe this helped my project management skills as a few things inevitably went wrong,” says Jody. “An example of this was the previously free passes were now being charged for at quite a high price and therefore a lot of reorganisation to ensure we stuck to the budget was necessary.

However, I believe the setbacks enabled me to get more involved and challenge myself to find a suitable solution that stuck to the budget, but also enabled the most amount of employees to get to attend the air show. It also helped me to build confidence in my ability to solve problems and work well under pressure.”

So will the apprentices be back for the next show in 2014?

“We will more than likely be at Farnborough 2014, although it will be the younger apprentices who will pick this up and continue to represent MBDA. It is also most likely to be bigger and better - we’re always looking for new activities and new ways to interact with the young people at these types of events,” says Jess.