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March 2017 - Diary of a 40-year-old placement student

Well folks, I can hardly believe it, we’re halfway through already. It only seems a matter of weeks since I first arrived at Moog and yet, somehow, it also feels like I have been here for much longer. I think that both of these viewpoints are down to the fact that I have made a point of getting stuck in to every possible opportunity. We know all too well how time can drag when you have little or nothing to do, but when you really get stuck into something, the hours, days and weeks simply fly past.

By the same respect, as I have been involved with so many things and have learnt so much, I now feel like a part of the company, rather than ‘just’ a student here to get a bit of work experience. This is in no small part due to the fact that everyone here has been extremely welcoming and has treated me with nothing but respect.

The reality of an aging workforce

One thing that has come to light this month is the reality of an aging workforce. We are all familiar with the figures quoted about the UK needing one million more engineers by 2020. However, when given figures of that scale, it can be hard to relate that to what is actually happening ‘on the ground’. However, this issue has had a direct influence on the direction of my placement.

The original plan was for me to spend my first six months with the Commercial Aircraft team and then move over to the Military Aircraft team. However, as I have been working alongside someone retiring at the end of the month, it made sense for me to stay where I am and pick up the work he had been carrying out. This has proved beneficial, as I now won’t have to spend the first few weeks within a new team, getting up to speed with their projects and procedures.

The EES project nears its end…

This month has also seen the EES project with Wednesfield High School nearing its conclusion. The pupils have made good headway with their product and are about to finish their project report, which is to be submitted by the end of the month. This will leave them April in which to rehearse the presentation they have to give at the Assessment Day on 2nd May, but with their Easter Holiday right in the middle, they will only have a couple of weeks to practice. To aid this, they will be coming back into Moog to have a practice run in front of myself and the other staff who have supported the project over the last six months.

For myself, I have been spending some time this month shadowing the colleague who I will be picking up work from, to ensure that I am fully up to speed and can ask any questions I have before he retires. In addition, I have been making good progress with the large test rig, which has been the main focus of my placement. This has involved a lot of systems analysis and regular monitoring and maintenance of the test rig, as well as interpretation of the test results, ensuring that the testing is meeting all of the exacting criteria laid out by the customer and aviation authorities.

Health and safety

Looking back at my previous diary entries, one thing I have not yet mentioned is the importance of health and safety. This might sound like an obvious one, but if your placement involves any hands-on work, it is vital that you are fully aware of all safety risks, procedures and precautions. Besides the standard safety measures that you will have come across during lab tests at uni, each work environment will bring its own unique set of hazards and associated safety measures. Not only is compliance paramount to yours and your colleagues’ safety, but I’m sure no-one wants to go down in company legend as ‘that student who...(insert major catastrophe)’ – thankfully not speaking from experience, I hasten to add.

For your placements, hopefully you have had plenty of applications go out and, more importantly, plenty come back. However, as your semester two assignments will no doubt be in full swing and with end of year exams looming on the horizon, I’m sure you have plenty of work to keep you occupied. Just remember; don’t leave securing your placements until the last minute, or you might find the one you had your eye on has already been snapped up.