Take a Closer Look at Systems Engineering in The Seeker Division

Role description
I am a Graduate Systems Engineer within the Seeker Division of MBDA UK, based at Stevenage.

To what extent did you enjoy your work placement?
I am on the MBDA graduate scheme and have completed three of my four graduate placements and each one of them has provided me with a different perspective on the development of a seeker for a future air-to-ground missile project. Each placement has presented unique challenges which were not all within my comfort zone, prompting me to develop myself not only as an Engineer, but also as an individual. For these reasons, and many others, I have really enjoyed my time on all of my placements.

To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
In my experience, the management and supervisors are not there to hold your hand every step of the way; they are there for support when required. The support I was given for all my placements so far has not come solely from management and supervisors, but from peers and colleagues. However during the initial period of each placement the guidance from management and/or supervisors tends to be in abundance and is certainly invaluable.

How busy are you on a daily basis?
That tends to vary from day-to-day or week-to-week. There are some days where writing or updating a document is your priority, and there are others where you spend a full day in the lab, setting up experiments, recording and analysing data. In a nutshell, there is always something to be doing.

How much responsibility were you given during your placements?
Again, that varies for placement to placement. During my time working with the physical sub-systems, in hardware, for example, I was given the responsibility to raise the maturity of a key subsystem to a high enough standard for use in integration. This is not standard procedure when it comes to a graduate systems engineer. On a side note, my responsibility for this placement did not go unnoticed, and I was rewarded for my efforts.

To what extent did the knowledge and skills gained in your degree studies assist you in your placements?
I did an Undergraduate Master’s Degree in Physics which did present its challenges when attempting to relate to the real world problems at hand, however when breaking down problems into the individual issues, the fundamental physics and mathematics have proven invaluable.

What is the general atmosphere in the office?
My colleagues are dedicated to their work but are also very approachable and friendly. As a graduate, being surrounded by many others who also started their career at MBDA as a graduate eases tension when you need to break the ice and ask them for advice or assistance.

How well organised was the overall work placements set up?
At the start of each placement, graduates undergo an informal meeting whereby your managers discuss your objectives for that placement, the skills you are likely to gain, and any training / courses you should think about enrolling on.

In terms of personal training and development, to what extent does the company or firm invest in you?
As a graduate or apprentice, there are many useful training and development events which the company enrols you on. These events broaden your knowledge, develop each individual’s personality and enable you to expand your network. All the training courses that MBDA offer are all categorised and listed online internally to make it much easier for you to identify which ones may be of interest to you.

What were the perks of your placements?
With the exception of my first placement, which was auto-assigned, I have approached potential managers and asked if I could join them for one of the six month placements. The fact that I have been able to choose where I go, based upon my interest, is a huge perk.

How appealing are the future progression prospects within the organisation?
The graduate placements give a good insight into team dynamics and the different projects within a major organisation. The skills I developed during my placement have enabled me to progress my career and to prove myself within the team and project. There are also a number of ex-graduates in senior or managerial positions within the company, which is very encouraging and motivating.

Is there a good social scene amongst the graduates?
Yes, there’s a great social scene, particularly amongst our graduates and apprentices. It also contributes to our work as it’s not only great fun, but also develops the connection between individuals, making us more effective at work.

What is the cost of living and socialising in the area you work?
The cost of living is more than I expected after leaving university - as it probably is for every graduate - however it’s not so substantial that I do not have disposable income. I still go on holiday and buy things that I want, and I’m even looking at buying a house in the next 12 months.

Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
There are a number of activities which graduates can get involved with. They may not always be off site, but they provide a break from the day-to-day activities and allow you to refresh and therefore perform to the best of your ability.