I joined Rolls-Royce’s Engineering Graduate Leadership Development Program after graduating college. The program gives young engineers the opportunity to develop a wide set of technical skills in a small, but intense period of the time. The program is about two years with four rotations; every rotation is about 6-8 months in a different engineering department. It is intended to not only expose young graduates to different technical aspects, but a variety of product lines (defense/civil and turbofan/turboshaft/turboprop).
During my first rotation I had the opportunity to work on a global team (Derby, UK & Indy, USA) working on cost reduction for the newest engine in the Civil Large Engine (CLE) fleet, the Trent XWB. The most efficient and highest thrust engine in Rolls Royce history, the engine took a large number of technical leaps. It was also extremely expensive, and therefore, had ongoing cost reduction activities. I worked on discs (which transfer torque and contain the blades in the compressor and turbine) which are critical safety components (thus making changes difficult).
I transferred to the Electrical Power and Control Systems (EPACS) group for my next rotation to work on a development program for an electric starter generator on a defense turboprop engine (used on the C-130 aircraft). Those engines are currently started using compressed air; however, using an electric starter-generator would shed the expensive and heavy aux power engine used to supply the compressed air. It would also allow for electrical energy generation during flight which is an important part of modernization of US Air Force aircraft. We did a variety of lab (electrical sub-system) testing before doing full engine testing. I was responsible for data analysis after lab testing and characterizing the data to inform and predict outcomes for the full engine test.
As part of the Graduate Leadership Development Program, we were required to participate in a special project. During this “design/make project”, we were teamed up with other engineers in the program and given a short, but dedicated period to solve a challenging problem. During our D/M project, we were tasked with designing an exhaust nozzle. This was a particularly interesting challenge since not only did we not currently supply this part, but we wanted to use our design to win a contract with Lockheed Martin. We knew cost was going to be the driving factor of this negotiation. I was responsible for working with more experienced manufacturing engineers to create a dynamic cost model that could be used for design comparison and optimization.
Finally, in the last few months of my time at Rolls-Royce, I was lucky enough to get involved in the Research and Technology group as the coordinating liaison with small businesses that wanted to collaborate with Rolls as part of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from the Department of Defense. As part of the SBIR grants, all small businesses need to work into a primary defense contractor’s supply chain. So therefore, I worked with two different small businesses to explore value propositions for Rolls Royce. I created reports and proposals with recommended investment or partnerships.
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