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Airbus Mentor shares secrets for success

Jan 17, 2019
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Alvery Grazebrook is a Fuel System Modelling Specialist at Airbus and Fly Your Ideas 2019 marks his fifth year as an Airbus Mentor. In this exclusive interview, Alvery tells us about his experience mentoring a team all the way to the final – and offers advice to Round 2 teams on how to get there.

Why did you get involved in Fly Your Ideas?

Fly Your Ideas brought dreams of co-operation with academic organisations and new research possibilities. Being involved with new ideas and the enthusiasm of the teams gets me out of my shell after the New Year.

What are the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of mentoring a team?

When they do well! I’m so proud of the way my teams have connected with other people when developing their ideas – whether it was the Stuttgart students who worked with the local airport management to gather data about usage-patterns, or the Surrey University team who pre-sold their idea to two separate airlines and used the information gathered to develop their business model. This raises the bar for what can be achieved.

How can Round 2 teams make the most of their Airbus Mentor?

As an Airbus Mentor, I have usually had to support the team with basic project management. When the students have done this for themselves, it allows the Mentor relationship to dive into the more technical and creative aspects of the project.

Any other advice you would give to Round 2 teams?

Be clear about the novelty and added value in your idea, and do something specific to support this. Some examples (not just from my teams) – when making composites from new materials, the team performed billet testing to provide standardised data on the material properties of the result. When designing a downward pointing camera mount, the team performed an analysis to assess how many aircraft needed to carry the device to achieve varying levels of coverage over Europe. Decide what you are going to do to provide the evidence to prove your point.

You mentored Team SkyVision from the University of Surrey, UK, who were selected as finalists in 2017. Tell us about your experience of the final event.

We arrived in Toulouse, and spent an intense week preparing. Each of the teams went into their corners and worked extremely hard. What was amazing is how much the teams supported each other emotionally. I don’t mean group hugs – although there were plenty of those at the end when we were all parting – I mean by challenging each other, and supporting each other through the stressful moments of the final round.

Have you remained in touch with your mentees?

I’ve remained in touch with some of them. Particularly with the SkyVision team that made it through to Round 3, we were so much more involved because of the time spent together in Toulouse ProtoSpace Lab. It was lovely to be invited to give a reference, and I’ve had several other exchanges with members of the team about careers and about developing their idea further.

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