Aerospace Engineering: Graduate Area of Work
Aerospace engineering is an industry undergoing rapid growth in Singapore as the government strives to position the country as a regional aviation hub.
With more than 100 international aerospace companies taking roots in Singapore – including major names like Rolls Royce, Goodrich, and Pratt & Whitney – and the establishment of aerospace amenities, the Lion City is set to dominate nearly a quarter of the Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) market in Asia.
Most of the services offered by these companies include extensive and thorough nose-to-tail MRO operations, though a select few also dabble in aerospace design and manufacturing services locally.
This broadening of the industry signals an influx of new and exciting job opportunities for graduate engineers who are looking to start out in the aerospace engineering sector, adding to the 19,900 workers (90% skilled) currently employed within this industry.
The typical core responsibilities of aerospace engineers include a mix of researching, designing, manufacturing, as well as operating and maintaining aircraft.
Between working on civilian and military aircraft, however, some may find the latter to be more exciting, as the military will usually expose them to more advanced and developed aviation technology, such as fighter jets, reconnaissance machines, and automated vehicles.
Trends and developments in the aerospace industry
Sustainable development is a key point of focus in the aerospace industry these days. Most employers within this sector have had to adapt to global events such as environmental concerns related to the aviation industry, rising fuel prices, as well as a growing apprehension of flights due to the unnatural recent rash of aircraft accidents.
Improving safety measures on aircraft, more stringent quality control on the production of aircraft parts, and the search for both alternative fuel sources and more fuel-efficient aircraft engines are some of the leading headlines within the industry in this time.
How aerospace projects and teams are structured
Working in this field, you can expect to come across complex and challenging projects that deal with sophisticated, highly-developed technology. Most of these projects tend to have a very long lead time, and will consist of several sub-teams working on different parts of the project to achieve one similar goal.
Once you are roped into a particular project or team, you can expect to be working on it and the same group of people for a number of years. For this reason, team organisation and structure become an integral part of work – you need to know who you will be reporting to, and who reports to you.
For instance, aerodynamic engineers in charge of the hydraulic parts of airplanes – but working on different projects – will sit together for meetings as a team and perform the necessary research and stress testing in order to refine or maintain those parts.
They will rarely have to interact with their colleagues working on other parts of the plane (such as the turbines) unless there are relevant projects that require the services of an integrated, interdisciplinary team.
Getting a graduate job in aerospace engineering
There are various ways for you to get into the industry, but most graduates usually enter this sector through graduate training schemes or internship programmes offered by established companies.
Industrial placements, in particular, are very useful for helping a graduate to obtain experience and knowledge, and to gauge his or her interest and suitability in the sector before actually applying for a permanent role.
Generally, graduates are expected to pick up the necessary technical skills as they are mentored by experienced engineers. The ability to discern details and to think out of the box is also very appreciated by recruiters. Enthusiasm for your work, the ability to work well in teams, the ability to balance different project requirements simultaneously, and methodical logic are also significant traits that hiring companies look out for.
Most graduates will choose an area of specialisation once they have gained enough experience and knowledge, but some may also opt to take a commercial or management career path.
While travelling and international relations may be one of the best parts of this sector, the tightening of budgets and schedules may sometimes strain team dynamics and general relationships.
The highlights of a career in aerospace
This field requires a lot of creativity and thinking out of the box, as you will often encounter issues and complications that do not have a one-size-fits-all solution. While this may sometimes be demanding, it allows you to flex your ingenuity and will give you opportunities to showcase your resourcefulness.
You can also expect to encounter a wide variety of job opportunities that will challenge your expertise and facilitate your growth as a budding engineer within the aerospace industry – from cutting-edge research on aircraft components to overhaul services.
The aerospace industry seeks graduates in
- Aerospace/aeronautical engineering
- Automotive engineering
- Control engineering
- Electrical engineering
- Electronic engineering
- Instruments engineering
- Materials engineering
- Mechanical engineering
- Power systems
- Software engineering