A Day in a Life Of...

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Monday 5 December 2022

A job advert on its own, rarely gives a full insight into what it is like to work somewhere. To get a snapshot of life at MBDA, David, one of our Principal Engineers, gives us a ‘day in the life’ taste of the real scenarios our people face driving our business forward each day.

I’m a Principal Engineer in a team within Sparkworks called the Radio-Frequency (RF) Tech team. We research high power RF and microwave systems. I’m also a line manager for two staff within the RF Tech group and hopefully that will grow in the near future.

My work is a mixture of project management and technical work. I’m also a laboratory (lab) custodian, so I have a responsibility for health & safety and making sure the lab has all the right equipment for the needs of its users.

After the alarm clock goes off…

I like to cycle to work, so my alarm goes off at six thirty, and if I have time, I like to do a longer cycle to work. I then have a shower and breakfast at work. I start work after that with a good cup of tea.

My work

The technical work I do I could be looking at simulation and design work, which is computer based or talking with other engineers within my department, collaborating to come up with designs and making design decisions. Alternatively, I could be in the lab.  Some of the work I am involved with in the lab is the testing of high power RF systems. High power RF systems such as these have to be tested in special screened rooms to ensure that the RF energy cannot radiate freely and interfere with other electronic systems. Many of the other testing activities I’m involved with are experiments with various high voltage systems. These sorts of systems are usually tested in a big tank of oil, which  acts as an electrical insulator around the system under test.

We do quite a lot of customer demos within Sparkworks, which are important to the business. They can be a bit stressful but also can be really rewarding.  

On the project management side of things I could be catching up with people I work with on the program. I’m in the office quite a lot so I like to go round and see how they’re doing.

The other aspect of my job is the line management part, so I make time for my staff, making sure they have the right amount of work for the upcoming month or looking at problems they’re working on and try to provide any positive input I can. I’m really glad I’ve managed to take this on in the last year or so because I’m a people person and I think it will give me a lot of satisfaction going forward.

The best part of the job

Since I’ve worked in Sparkworks, I would say my job has been quite varied which has given me the opportunity to work on a number of different projects working on lots of different types of technology. The people in my group are really friendly, they’re a really sociable group, so it’s really easy to come into work every day and just enjoy solving problems, it’s a great place to be doing that.

My favourite thing about working in Engineering

Getting to learn new stuff all the time is one of my favourite things about working in Engineering. Its particularly good for the younger generation, the learning doesn’t stop when you start at MBDA, you’re constantly learning something new, but there isn’t an exam at the end of it.

Continuing to learn

In the last year, I’ve learnt a lot about managing people, so I’ve been learning about the best way to do that. Such as, getting advice of other people who already do people management and receiving feedback from my reports on what’s the best way to manage them and what the best process is.

Advice to people aspiring to get into engineering

I think that within MBDA it’s an interesting place to work with a lot of new technologies being developed. Also, MBDA are really good at letting people try out other roles, it isn’t a case of staying in a certain area. MBDA are keen and happy for you to move around the business if you have a certain interest, giving a lot more development opportunities to everyone.

It’s not all work, work, work…

Outside of work, I have a little boy who keeps my time quite filled up.  So at the moment I start quite early, so I get back and have tea with my little boy after I’ve picked him up form nursery, get the chores done and then watch some TV.

I like to read (when I get the chance). I like a mixture of popular science and music books, that sort of thing. I’m currently reading a book on how music is processed by your brain, which I have found really interesting.

I also play guitar, it doesn’t happen as often as I would like to. I played quite a lot when I was younger, and then it sorted of fell into the background lately as other things have taken over, but I am trying to get back into it. I have quite a lot instruments at home, keyboards, trumpets, lots of different things I’ve tried over the years. My little boy has already started bashing the keys on the keyboard. It’s funny seeing him trying to make a noise with the trumpet.

Hopefully soon I’ll get a bit more time for my hobbies.

The way we work at MBDA is changing and our people’s schedules reflect that. For our non-executive employees, we have a flexi-time scheme that allows them to choose, within certain parameters, when they start and finish each day and how they can use time they have accrued and take up to 15 days of Flexi-leave per annum (in addition to 25 days of annual leave provided and bank holidays).
If this sounds like something that would suit your work/life balance, why not find your opportunity with us here.