From Formula 1 to Airbus’ Wing Structures Graduate Programme: meet Philip!

Mar 22, 2018

What inspires people to work in aviation and aerospace? It could be the excitement of air travel, a great university lecturer or school teacher, seeing a movie taking place in outerspace, or the experience of a competition or challenge like in Fly Your Ideas.

For Philip, currently part of Airbus’ highly regarded UK graduate scheme working as a Wing Structures Graduate, learning about the industry from the inside opened his eyes to a very different career to the one he first envisioned for himself. “Formula 1 was the great inspiration for me as a kid and I studied aerospace engineering in the hope of joining a Formula 1 team as a chief aerodynamicist. Then through university, I learnt about the aerospace industry and liked what I saw.”

The UK Airbus graduate programme is highly competitive, and Philip told us how he gradually built up the workplace experience and key skills needed to stand out from other candidates. “After secondary school, I spent a week shadowing the manufacturing engineers in Bombardier Belfast. Then I spent my weekends during university working for Mallaghan Engineering, building and finishing ground support equipment for airports.” Following his studies, Philip also did an internship at B/E Aerospace, “I worked as a manufacturing engineer responsible for the issues on two production lines and on four new aircraft seating contracts, where I had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with the airlines as well as Airbus and Boeing. I also spent 4 months in the Philippines managing change on galley production. I feel it is this international experience and working at different levels in the industry that helped me stand out from other candidates and ultimately secure this amazing opportunity to join Airbus.”

Philip has recently completed his 6th rotation within the 27-month programme where he was based at Filton in the UK. “The beauty of the graduate scheme is getting different types of experience before committing to a full-time role. It is very self-driven and takes a lot of effort but it’s all worth it when a placement is even better than expected.” He explains that the scheme involves several 3 to 6-month placements around different areas of wing design, stress, fatigue, flight physics, research and testing. Philip’s 7th rotation will see him jetting off to Sydney, Australia to complete a 3 month placement with the Austalian airline, Qantas. He will find out how customers decide on which aircraft to buy, how they use their aircraft and gain insights into their maintainance programmes.

When it comes to choosing highlights of his time so far, Philip has plenty to share, but his top moment came when “working in the technical authority team to develop a proposal for a potential update of the single aisle wing. I had to present to the heads of engineering and of the programme, and I am proud as our proposal is currently under development for the next derivative aircraft.” 

Here’s a final word from Philip: “To succeed at Airbus, I believe you need a passion for engineering and the aerospace industry. You also need to enjoy working on complex problems that require highly integrated multi-functional teams and effective communication. Recognise that there is so much to learn and embrace that challenge.”

Thanks Philip! You can stay up to date with all the latest news from Fly Your Ideas by signing up for our newsletter here. Follow us on the Airbus Fly Your Ideas Facebook page and see the latest career opportunities for students and graduates at the Airbus website, Facebook or Twitter.