Loughborough Alumni

Our alumni

Luke Horner

Aerodynamics Engineer / Aircraft Research Association

Luke graduated with an Aeronautical Engineering degree in 2016, and is now an Aerodynamics Engineer – Wind Tunnel Test at the Aircraft Research Association here he tells us a bit about his time at Loughborough University and his career journey.

Why did you choose to study at Loughborough University?

The course seemed to be tailored to what I was looking for and the overall campus environment seemed aligned with my undergraduate hopes.

Why did you want to pursue your subject at degree level?

I had spent a number of years in the RAF Air Cadets prior to University, which gave me the aspiration to work in the aerospace industry. I didn’t know exactly what topic area I wanted to work in and I thought it would give me the opportunity to find out exactly what I wanted to do. I didn’t find out until University that the Aerospace industry was so vast and there were hundreds of different jobs and areas of further work, which only made the choice a little harder! Nevertheless, I wanted to study something that would allow me to problem solve and teach me more about aviation in general.

The degree is a solid introduction into the many areas of aerospace, from experimental wind tunnel testing to airframe and payload logistical design to structural design and modelling. The degree subject takes a partnership with the automotive engineering course in the early years, which gives you a good insight into the comparable areas of both industries. The degree at Loughborough really allows you develop your skillset into the area of aerospace engineering you enjoy, with the wide number of module choices to study.

What was it like for you studying at university?

The student spirit at Loughborough was amazing, a truly great experience which felt like one big family. There was great level of support both academically and personally.

What is your job now and can you tell us about your career journey so far?

Following my undergraduate degree, I undertook a Master's programme at Cranfield University, in Aerospace Dynamics. I currently work as a Wind Tunnel Test Engineer (Aerodynamics Engineer) at the Aircraft Research Association in Bedford, UK. The main focus of my job role is as a Lead Technical Manager to several wind tunnel test programmes in our main Transonic Wind Tunnel, which is used to assess the aerodynamic flow characteristics over a number wind tunnel models. I have worked with a wide range of customers over the two years I have been employed at ARA and have worked on both civil and military project applications in our main wind tunnel facility and in other smaller and specialist facilities. ARA provides a key link in the aerospace development cycle allowing for validation/complementation of computational assessment methods.

My degree gave me a key introduction into experimental methods, particularly during my undergraduate dissertation, which focused on a low-speed assessment of the drag produced by an aircraft’s landing gear configuration. This wind tunnel experience helped me guide my further study into both low-speed and high-speed aerodynamics applications and provided me with initial experience and understanding of experimental test techniques. I have used the skills I learned at Loughborough University throughout my professional career and I am sure that I will continue to do so over the coming years.

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