How graduate engineers make an impact at BAE Systems

Three engineering graduates at BAE Systems share the work they’re doing – and the support they’re receiving – to make a real difference, where it matters most.

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With a long history of innovation and excellence, and ambitious plans for the future, BAE Systems is a place where you can start, and grow, your career with confidence. Joining a BAE Systems graduate programme means you’ll learn through valuable hands-on experience and formal training – developing a career, from day one.

Would you like to know more about what your career would be like at BAE Systems? Three engineers from the company – Alexa, Becky and Beth – share their experiences: from the varied projects and products they’ve gained experience on, to the wealth of training and development they’ve become accustomed to.

Once you’ve finished reading about life on the graduate scheme, head to BAE Systems’ article on women in STEM to hear more from Alexa, Becky and Beth on not just their experiences as female engineers, but also the culture and people at BAE Systems, the mentoring they’ve received and how they’re able to inspire others through the company’s STEM outreach work.

Developing a career from day one

One thing that Alexa, Becky and Beth all have in common is that they didn’t join BAE Systems for the first time as graduates. Alexa, who studied digital electronic engineering at the University of Sheffield, and Becky, who studied aerospace engineering at the University of Liverpool, both started as summer interns in 2019 and were offered a place on the graduate scheme, which they happily accepted.

Beth returned to BAE Systems in 2018 after already completing an industrial placement year as part of her mechanical engineering degree at Loughborough University. Since finishing the graduate scheme, she has been selected to join the company’s Future Talent programme, designed for employees that it sees as high potential to move into leadership positions.

‘The Future Talent programme offers a lot of personal development,’ explains Beth. ‘I’ve moved into a new role to ensure I’m being pushed to the best of my abilities, I’m completing training on managing people and I receive one-to-one coaching from a senior colleague. I also attended a development panel made up of senior leaders at the start of the programme to discuss my career plan and personal aspiration. I’ll attend two more of these – one halfway through the programme and one at the end.’

Making a real impact, where it counts

BAE Systems provides ground-breaking solutions for customers such as the British Army, the Ministry of Defence, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy. You will work at the cutting edge of technology and see things that most people will never have chance to. Becky, for example, is based at Warton, a functioning air site: ‘I get to see aircraft take off and it’s really cool to watch and think “My work has contributed to making that happen”.’

One of the highlights of Alexa’s job has been trying out BAE Systems’ products. ‘My site has a simulation room that looks like an aircraft with BAE Systems’ products set up. Stepping inside to see all of this amazing, intuitive technology up close makes me not only proud of the work that I’ve already done and the difference it’s made, but also excited for the work I’m going to do in future.’

Meanwhile, Beth is based on a naval base, meaning she can go on board the ships most days: ‘I can see for myself the important impact that my work has and I can say I’ve played a part in sending the Royal Navy out on deployment and keeping the country safe.’ One of her most memorable experiences at BAE Systems is spending a day out at sea with the Royal Navy. ‘They were doing trials while I was on board, which was really cool. It’s one thing seeing the ships in the naval base and another thing entirely seeing a ship in action.’

Exposure to different projects

When you join BAE Systems on the graduate scheme, you’ll become a member of one of its business areas. Alexa joined Electronic Systems, Becky joined Air and Beth joined Maritime Services. Whichever area you find yourself in, you’ll be assigned to a range or projects to develop your skills and expertise, and you’ll be given the level of independence and responsibility that you need to make a meaningful contribution to your projects.

‘I work in FPGA engineering designing, testing and verifying processor chips. So far, I’ve worked on three major projects: the Striker II helmet, the F16 digital light engine (DLE) head-up display (HUD) and a maritime controls project that I can’t say much more about!’ says Alexa. ‘I haven’t been given menial tasks and I think it’s great that, only two months into my graduate scheme, I could say I was already getting stuck into a real project.’

‘The flexibility on the graduate programme and the opportunities to move around different teams is great. I work in aerodynamics and I’ve gained experience in different sub-divisions and products. I started off working on the Typhoon aircraft and now I’m working on Tempest, a new next-generation fighter aircraft for the UK,’ explains Becky.

Start, and grow, your career with confidence

At the start of the graduate programme, you’ll complete an induction in your chosen business area and, as you progress through the scheme, you’ll complete three modules of what the company calls Personal Effectiveness training and attend the Graduate Workshop – a two-day conference for all UK graduates.

Outside of the graduate programme, you can tap into the training on offer for all BAE Systems employees. ‘BAE Systems has a big learning culture. If you don’t know something, the company will teach you. It runs lots of internal courses on topics and I’ve attended sessions on topics such as computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and product safety,’ says Becky.

You can also benefit from funding for external courses. For example, Alexa has completed a six-month course with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on model-based engineering – something she never thought she’d have chance to learn. If you would like to pursue postgraduate study, this is something that BAE Systems will support you to do. Beth has studied for a masters degree in systems engineering funded by the company.

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